You’ve probably learned that matter can exist as a gas, a liquid, or a solid. But scientists may have recently discovered a new state of matter that’s none of the above. Under the right conditions, matter can also exist in a “partially molten state,” says Andreas Hermann. He’s a physicist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
The researchers detected the new state using computer simulations. The scientists mimicked how atoms, or the smallest units, of the element potassium (K) would behave under extreme pressure and heat. The simulation showed that potassium entered a state that was part liquid and part solid. “Imagine if you put it in a kitchen strainer,” says Hermann. “The liquid would leak out, but on the other side, it would remain a solid block.”