STATES CHRONICLE – Physics is one of the most complicated and difficult areas of expertise. And it’s only natural, since it revolves purely around understanding and applying that understanding. Physicists work so that they can better understand the world we live in and that so they can use that understanding to make our lives easier.
And as much as we think we know about our world at one point, it’s very likely that we will be proven wrong at one point. It has happened very often in the past, and it will keep happening just as often in the future. This is because we generally work with generalities. If something seems like it would apply to something else, we assume that it does.
But that’s usually not a bad thing, as it saves us a huge amount of time in testing and analyzing. If we were to retest every single new process with for everything to which it could potentially apply, we’d never move on to anything else. So we generalize to make our lives easier.
Sometimes, though, we find out that because of our incorrect assumptions or our lack of data, we were wrong about a whole array of different subjects. Remember when you found out that there was a fourth state of matter called plasma, despite you learning in school that there were only three?
Well, a team of scientists from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory just discovered that water molecules have newly found state of being. Even though the team went to great lengths to achieve this process, they claim that it can be found in nature under certain conditions.
Since plasma is such a tough state to reach, or at least it was when it was first discovered, how does this new state of matter work? Well, the team of researchers noticed that water molecules reach a tunneling state when restricted in a mineral which, like beryl, has hexagonal ultra-small channels only 5 angstroms across.
So basically, water has to be confined, as well as constricted in order to reach the tunneling state. When in the state, the water molecules become scattered around a ring, taking a double top-like shape. Even more, it starts being affected by phenomena typical of quantum physics.
According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Alexander Kolesnikov,
This means that the oxygen and hydrogen atoms of the water molecule are ‘delocalized’ and therefore simultaneously present in all six symmetrically equivalent positions in the channel at the same time. It’s one of those phenomena that only occur in quantum mechanics and has no parallel in our everyday experience.
While the finding is very difficult to reproduce, and it currently takes a computer model to recreate, the team is certain of their discovery. They will keep looking into the process, as well as into applications for fields like thermodynamics, quantum physics, particle physics, and other specializations of the domain.
Image source: Daily Mail