Physics and Chemistry


What is the fourth state of matter?

Plasma, a mixture of free electrons and ions or atomic nuclei, is sometimes referred to as a “fourth state of matter.” Plasmas occur in thermonuclear reactions as in the sun, in fluorescent lights, and in stars. When the temperature of gas is raised high enough, the collision of atoms becomes so violent that electrons are knocked loose from their nuclei. The result of a gas having loose, negatively charged electrons and heavier, positively charged nuclei is called a plasma.

All matter is made up of atoms. Animals and plants are organic matter; minerals and water are inorganic matter. Solid, liquid, and gas are the first three states of matter. Whether matter appears as a solid, liquid, or gas depends on how the molecules are held together in their chemical bonds. Solids have a rigid structure in the atoms of the molecules; in liquids the molecules are close together but not packed; in a gas, the molecules are widely spaced and move around, occasionally colliding but usually not interacting.


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