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April 9 2013

Solid or Liquid? Physicists Redefine States of Matter


Why can you stand on a glacier but not the ocean?

The answer seems simple enough: Liquids flow. Solids donít. The atoms in liquids can slosh around. In solids, they fall lockstep into a crystal lattice. A crystalís endlessly repeating pattern is so stable that it takes a considerable infusion of energy to make the atoms break rank. Or so physics textbooks say.

But this long-accepted explanation for the rigidity of solids fails to account for quasicrystals ó bizarre solids first discovered in the lab in 1982 and found in nature in 2009.

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