States of Matter

3 Apr, 2014 530 Physics

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the science of matter and the states in which it can exist. Most people are familiar with the idea that a substance like water can exist in solid, liquid and gaseous forms. But as much as 99% of the matter in the universe is now believed to exist in a fourth state, plasma. Today scientists recognise a number of other exotic states or phases, such as glasses, gels and liquid crystals - many of them with useful properties that can be exploited.

Listen on BBC Sounds website


  • Andrea Sella 3 episodes
    Professor of Chemistry at University College London
  • Athene Donald 3 episodes
    Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge
  • Justin Wark 3 episodes
    Professor of Physics and Fellow of Trinity College at the University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Andrea Sella at University College London
  • Athene Donald at the University of Cambridge
  • Justin Wark at the University of Oxford
  • State of matter - Wikipedia
  • States of matter - General Chemistry Virtual Textbook
  • Liquid Crystals
  • Perspectives on Plasmas - the fourth state of matter
  • Supercritical fluids
  • Supercritical carbon dioxide
  • H2O: A Biography of Water
    Philip Ball (Phoenix, 2000) Google Books →
  • The Fourth State of Matter: An Introduction to Plasma Science
    Shalom Eliezer and Y. Eliezer (Taylor & Francis, 2001) Google Books →
  • Stuff Matters: The Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials that Shape Our Man-made World
    Mark Miodownik (Viking, 2013) Google Books →
  • Gases, Liquids and Solids and Other States of Matter
    D. Tabor (Cambridge University Press, 1991) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, most of the matter we encounter in everyday life appears in one of three states, solid, liquid or gas.