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States of matter help?

  1. Aug 19, 2014 #1
    For school my teacher told me there were 3 states of matter but the internet told me there were 5. Help???
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 19, 2014 #2

    AlephZero

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    If you count all the things that can happen at extreme conditions (including things that theoretically might happen but have not yet been observed) there are a lot more than five.

    I guess you teacher's three were solid, liquid, and gas. You could add plasma as a fourth "classical" state. You can think of a plasma as being a like gas, but where all the electrons have been separated from the nuclei of the atoms, so every particle has its own electric charge. It occurs naturally in lightning strikes, electric sparks, and sometimes in flames.

    Unless you just want a list of names, you can't really understand any of the other states of matter without first learning about quantum mechanics.
     
  4. Aug 20, 2014 #3

    sophiecentaur

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    It's difficult, in School, to understand where the simplified statements you get in your Science lessons apply to the real world you see. Many substances you see around you just do not fit into the simple descriptions of the states of matter you are taught. How would you classify the Tarmac you drive cars on? It flows, over time yet will support large weights for long periods. Solid or liquid??? Likewise, the (very solid????) rocks of the Earth will move when the pressures are great enough.

    If you are told that you will need to 'know' the three states of matter then it's best to accept that is all you will be tested on. Don't get upset that your extra knowledge seems to contradict it. The examples you get told about in School are the simple ones and are easy to classify. Don't go looking for trouble - life's too short. :smile: Just keep thinking.
     
  5. Aug 20, 2014 #4

    Physicist50

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    You're right, Sciencekid, schools probably should teach you about the five states of matter. Even if not Bose-Einstein Condensates, at least plasma, seeing as it's such a common phenomena
     
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