Solids, Liquids, and Gases

In which type of matter are particles packed together the tightest?

And the answer: solid.    

In a solid, particles are tightly packed, usually in a regular pattern, which helps the solid retain a fixed volume and shape. In contrast, particles in liquids and gasses are farther apart and flow more easily, with the liquid and gas taking on the shape of the container they're in.

Image credit: Socratic.org

Although matter can not be created or destroyed, it certainly can change shape. Solids, liquids and gasses are the forms of matter that comprise our universe (although scientists have recently discovered how to create three more forms of matter: plasmas, Bose-Einstein condensates, and fermionic condensates). Each of the three common forms of matter behave in a predictable fashion: solids firmly hold their shape, gasses are free-flowing, and liquids take on the shape of their container. However, there are some interesting exceptions to these rules. Learn something new about solids, liquids and gasses below:

  1. When helium is cooled to almost absolute zero – the lowest temperature possible – it becomes a liquid with surprising properties. It can flow against gravity and will start running up and over the lip of a glass container.
  2. Due to incredibly high pressure on the planets Uranus and Neptune, it's theorized that oceans of liquid diamond exist on the surface of each planet, with solid "diamond-bergs" floating on the surface. (Doesn't sound like a bad vacation, if you get past all the poisonous gasses.)
  3. There are quite a few types of gasses. Pure gasses are made up of just one atom, such as neon. Elemental gasses are made up of two or more of the same atoms that have joined together, such as hydrogen.
  4. Although solids are firm objects, they can possess changeable qualities. Plenty examples of this are common in everyday life: clay, Play-Doh, and other putties are examples of malleable solids.

Learn more about solids, liquids and gasses here.


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