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Can we say a state of a matter is exactly only one of solid, liquid or gas? Can't we say something is more "liquid-like" or less "solid-like?" What is a state of slime?

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  • $\begingroup$ My answer would be "yes". "State of matter" does not refer to only liquid, gas and solid. OTOH this question could be interpreted in other ways, for instance it is unclear whether it is meant "are states of matter always distinguishable". This is somewhat different from the Q which was deemed a duplicate, because the focus could be placed on the word clearly. It is highly unclear whether this is meant as a universal question (about theoretical definitions) or particular cases (experimental determination of the state of matter). $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn
    Jun 20 at 3:21
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Every man-made classification is problematic because there are no sharp boundaries among various classes. For elementary-level discussion solid-liquid-gas classifaction is fine, but things are more complex in real life.

Slime is a famous non-Newtonian fluid, which is just a fancy way of saying that this "stuff" can flow; hence it is a fluid, but its viscosity changes with flow rate, hence the fancy term "non-Newtonian." For example, if you have ever made a soup thickener with corn starch, the spoon gets jammed in the cup if you quickly move the spoon. You feel much resistance, but if you slow down, it is liquid dispersion again. Notice we have carefully avoided liquid, or solid here, because slime is colloid (a dispersion of a solid in liquid) if you are talking about corn-starch dispersed in water.

One may ask what is the state of smoke? It is neither solid, liquid or gas. It is a colloidal dispersion of solid particulates in gas.

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Definitely not. Not only do liquids and gases merge above the critical temperature and pressure, we also cannot distinguish solids from either liquids or gases by simply stating that solids do not flow. Because, under the right conditions, ultimately they do. As with many things in science, the apparent distinctions we usually see are in fact idealizations.

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