Typically we think of matter in terms of three states, solid, liquid and gas. There are actually several other states of matter which have been discovered to exist.
Photons are a type of matter, or perhaps more aptly stated quasi-matter which exhibit no detectable or measurable mass, but were theorized by Albert Einstein to exist as infinitesimally small particles of matter in 1905, and later confirmed by astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington in 1919. Since then several other quasi-matter particles, including neutrinos, have been demonstrated to exist.
Plasma, commonly referred to as the fourth state of matter, is a state which exists when electrons of an atom are excited and some portion of them are actually liberated into space. In electrical terms, plasmas are highly conductive and in almost all cases emit photons. Neon lights exploit the light emitting capacity of plasma and the light associated with a bolt of lightning is also the result of the air becoming plasmatic as a current of electricity passes through it, energizing the atoms and molecules which make up the air.
Bose-Einstein condensate is a quantum state of matter which exists only under severely cold conditions, around 1 or 2 degrees Kelvin. Among other things, Bose-Einstein condensates are superconductors, offering no resistance to an electrical current.
Liquid crystals is a term used to designate another state of matter exhibiting qualities of both solid and liquid matter. As liquid crystal molecules are energized they become polarized and will change color. The computer screen you are viewing this article with, likely uses liquid crystal technology.
Recent discoveries suggest there is another state of matter known as “dark matter” which represents most of the matter in the universe. As of yet, astrophysicists have not been able to quantify exactly what this dark matter is or even describe it in any useful terms. Nevertheless, we know that it must exists to explain the effects of gravity and continued expansion of the universe.
Not so long ago, humans believed the earth was flat and at the center of the universe. These premises turned out to be quite wrong. Most of us who have lived a half century or more were taught there are only three states of matter and this premise has turned out to be equally wrong. In this article we have talked about five additional states of matter and there are probably more awaiting discovery.