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The mind-bending material would be like a sponge made of water that's leaking water.

SOLID, LIQUID, GAS … and something else? While most of us learn about just three states of matter in elementary school, physicists have discovered several exotic varieties that can exist under extreme temperature and pressure conditions.

Now, a team has used a type of artificial intelligence to confirm the existence of a bizarre new state of matter, one in which potassium atoms exhibit properties of both a solid and a liquid at the same time. If you were somehow able to pull out a chunk of such material, it would probably look like a solid block leaking molten potassium that eventually all dissolved away.

“It would be like holding a sponge filled with water that starts dripping out, except the sponge is also made of water,” says study coauthor Andreas Hermann, a condensed matter physicist at the University of Edinburgh whose team describes the work this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The unusual state of potassium could exist under conditions found in Earth’s mantle, but the element is generally not found in a pure form and is usually bound up with other material. Similar simulations could help study the behaviors of other minerals in such extreme environments.

Leaky crystal.

Metals like potassium are fairly straightforward on a microscopic level. When shaped into a solid bar, the element’s atoms link up into orderly rows that conduct heat and electricity well. For a long time, researchers believed that they could easily predict what might occur to such crystalline structures under pressure.

But around 15 years ago, scientists discovered that sodium—a metal with similar properties to potassium—did something strange when compressed. At 20,000 times the pressure present at the Earth’s surface, sodium transformed from a silvery block into a transparent material, one that did not conduct electricity but rather prevented its flow. By probing the sodium with x-rays, scientists could see that its atoms had adopted a complex crystal formation instead of a simple one.

Potassium, too, has been subjected to much experimental scrutiny. When compressed to similar extremes, its atoms arrange themselves into an elaborate formation—five cylindrical tubes organized into an X shape, with four long chains sitting in the crooks of this assembly, almost like two separate and non-intertwining materials.

“Somehow, these potassium atoms decide to divide up into two loosely linked sub-lattices,” Hermann says. But as scientists turned up the heat, x-ray images showed the four chains disappearing, and researchers argued about what exactly was happening.

Hermann and his colleagues turned to simulations to find out, using what’s known as a neural network—an artificial intelligence machine that learns how to predict behavior based on prior examples. After being trained on small groups of potassium atoms, the neural network learned quantum mechanics well enough to simulate collections containing tens of thousands of atoms.

The computer models confirmed that between about 20,000 and 40,000 times atmospheric pressure and 400 to 800 Kelvin (260 to 980 degrees Fahrenheit), the potassium entered what’s called a chain-melted state, in which the chains dissolved into liquid while the remaining potassium crystals stayed solid.

This is the first time scientists have shown that such a state is thermodynamically stable for any element.

The machine learning technique that the team developed could be useful in modeling the behavior of other substances, says Marius Millot, who studies material under extreme conditions at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“Most of the matter in the universe is at high pressure and temperature, for instance inside planets and stars,” he adds.

Exotic states.

Now that the chain-melt phase of potassium is confirmed, it joins the known array of other unusual states of matter beyond gas, liquid, and solid.

Plasma: A superheated form of gas in which atomic nuclei are separated from their electrons, meaning they can generate and be affected by electric and magnetic fields.

Bose-Einstein condensate: Only formed at temperatures close to absolute zero, all the atoms in this material begin to act as a single particle.

Superconductor: A state achieved when certain metals are cooled to low temperatures, and electricity can move through them with no resistance.

Biology / Viruses: Molecular Hijackers
« Last post by Unbeliever on April 16, 2019, 02:32:40 PM »

Most of us know about viruses, and that they spread disease. But what is a virus exactly? Is it alive? How does it infect a host? There's a lot to discuss here! Take a look.

Physics/Chemistry / This Incredible Animation Shows How Small Atoms Really Are
« Last post by Unbeliever on April 16, 2019, 10:28:25 AM »
Atoms: The building blocks of everything around us. But how small are they? This animation will show you.


Biology / Porcupines Give You 30,000 Reasons to Back Off
« Last post by Unbeliever on April 15, 2019, 03:57:25 PM »

Porcupines may be adorable, but their quills are razor-sharp, designed to impale and next to impossible to remove. But it's not all bad news. Researchers are designing new surgical staples that mimic the quill's shape to better close wounds and promote healing.

Biology / This Is How Humans Will Become Immortal By 2090
« Last post by Unbeliever on April 10, 2019, 01:58:34 PM »
It’s not known exactly when us humans began to imagine being able to live forever, but it’s probably been thought about for thousands of years since getting old comes with a whole list of problems associated with it. The ancient Greek poet Homer called old age ‘loathsome, and the well-known Shakespeare termed old age as a ‘hideous winter’.

There are many scientists and researchers who believe that soon discoveries will be made that lead to immortality and that maybe even stem cell research could reverse the effects of aging since it has great potential. Believe it or not, it’s not known exactly why we age, it just happens and it’s a part of life. Researchers are still trying to understand what actually causes us to grow old and wither away and have looked at aging as if it were a disease.
But is it possible to achieve immortality?

There are many scientists who say that it’s just a matter of time. In fact, the tech giant Google says that we will probably find out the secret to eternal life by the year 2029. This is the time when its estimated that Nano-bots will be created that will be able to swim through our bodies and fight disease. Even more unbelievable is that Ray Kurzweil, who is Google’s director of engineering, says that medical advancements and technology will advance so much in the next 10 years that we may see humans being given the option to live forever.

It’s a pretty bold statement unless you understand the concept of medical Nano-bots. The microscopic bots could one day be used as drug capsules that directly target the disease and deliver the cure without affecting the entire body. Some scientists claim that eventually, we will be able to inject tiny nanoscale machines into our bodies that act like tiny pharmaceutical labs. These tiny robots would be able to detect a problem inside of your body, process your body’s natural enzymes and proteins into a drug, and then deliver it to the problem spot. Imagine never being sick again.

Nanotechnology is already capable of some incredible things.
At the same time, there are some scientists that say that it’s impossible to biologically live forever because our bodies would age no matter what. Research suggests that by solving one problem the human body ends up with another. There is a normal cell cycle in our body and if good cells are boosted, then cancer cells have a better chance to grow and even more violently.

Well even if they are, there are other ways to become immortal.
Cryonics is something that has been around for decades and is the science of freezing the body of a person using ultra-cold temperatures stopping decay and putting everything on hold. No, it’s not science fiction and shouldn’t be confused with cryosleep you see in the movies.

And for the record for those who are curious, the first human ever frozen by cryonics was Dr. James Bedford, who passed away in 1967 and is still in his cryonic chamber after 50 years.
 The big question one needs to ask themselves is ‘do I really want to live forever?’ Imagine the things that you would be able to accomplish if you could live as long as you wanted to. Of course, there is that whole ‘afterlife’ thing that a lot of people believe in. What if there is some existence when we leave our bodies and we don’t want to come back?

Some of you might think that it will be impossible to bring a frozen person back to life. However, some cool technology has come from the science of cryogenics. Some doctors have come up with a procedure which removes all the blood from a wounded person’s body and replaces it with a really cold saline solution which drops the bodies temperature to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is an absolutely fascinating thing that all of us will eventually experience what happens after we leave this Earth. Maybe there is some kind of glorious afterlife where only our spirit can live, or even perhaps scarier, maybe when we pass away it’s as if we simply flipped off the light switch.

There are a lot of questions when it comes down to being immortal. If you could suddenly live forever, have your brain moved into a robot, or upload your consciousness into a computer…. Would you do this? What about your family, and your friends? What if they weren’t coming along?

Astronomy/Cosmology / First Images of Black Holes!
« Last post by Unbeliever on April 10, 2019, 01:06:35 PM »

The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration observed the supermassive black holes at the center of M87 and our Milky Way galaxy (SgrA*) finding the dark central shadow in accordance with General Relativity, further demonstrating the power of this 100 year-old theory.


General Science / This Is What Will Happen By 2029
« Last post by Unbeliever on April 09, 2019, 02:52:08 PM »

Movies and television are constantly making predictions about how our world will change in the near future. And while they may often be comically wrong, like everyone zooming around on hoverboards in Back to the Future, we’re going to be taking a look of our own. The truth is that since technology and humanity’s capabilities have advanced exponentially within the last few decades, it’s difficult to tell what our world will be like by 2030. With how our world is today the possibilities for science and technology are boundless, so what can we expect before the year 2030?

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