Science: Fourth State of Matter

Only recently have scientists realized that most of the universe is neither gaseous, liquid or solid. It is plasma, a lively, tricky, often dangerous state of matter whose distinctive characteristic is that its particles are electrically charged. Scientists call it "the fourth state of matter,'' because plasma follows its own peculiar laws, responding to electrical forces and creating them. The sun and stars are mostly plasma; so are many loose particles moving in space between them. In fact, cosmologically speaking, only in a few exceptional places does matter settle down and become electrically neutral. But since the human race lives in...

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