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This Wild New Supersolid Is Three States Of Matter At Once

You learn about three or four phases of matter in school—solids, which have a shape and volume, liquids, which have a volume only, and gases and plasmas, which have neither a definite shape nor volume. But using the laws of physics, you can create incredible substances that behave nothing like the ones you learn about in chemistry. That includes a substance that behaves like both a solid crystal and a frictionless, perfectly-flowing liquid at the same time.

Now, groups of American and Swiss researchers have both created this strange new “supersolid” in two different ways. It’s not like they’ve created something you can hold in your hand—these are highly-engineered materials that exist in ultracold vacuum chambers. But there’s been a sort of race to create supersolids, which will help us understand the nature of matter itself.