We may think we know our own world pretty well by now. It turns out that’s not quite true. We’re still discovering a lot about our world and how it works— scientists are even still discovering, and creating, states of matter!

Science snippet

Before we get into the new stuff, it might be helpful to do a quick review of the states of matter that already existed before scientists decided to go and create a whole new one. The three most basic states of matter are liquids, solids, and gasses. 

Unsplash / Ryan Richards

There are a couple of others that exist, or that scientists have created, but these three are the basics, and the most commonly found here on earth (plasma, for example, can be found here, but is a lot more common on other planets). 

How on earth did they create a new one?

The differences between the states of matter mostly boil down to the difference of the densities of the particles of each state (solids’ particles are packed close together and don’t move a lot, while gaseous particles have a lot of space between them and move a lot more). 

Unsplash / Yosh Ginsu

By trapping light inside another material (yeah, actually), scientists were able to create something they’re calling “liquid light”, which is something between a solid and a superfluid (a fluid that flows with zero friction). What’s weird about it, though, is that it’s super rigid, like a solid. 

So, what else does this “liquid light” do?

Other than being quite possibly the coolest-sounding thing that scientists have ever come up with, this new state of matter doesn’t follow the rules of its previous states. Despite being a “liquid’, it’s also in a rigid state, so it can’t be pushed or stirred like other liquids. 

Unsplash / Sebastian Kanczok

Its velocity also doesn’t change if you push it, unlike other liquids like water, which will speed up if you push it. There may be other weird qualities about this new state of matter that we don’t yet know about, but scientists are sure to find out.