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New state of matter discovered (1935)

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Matter neither liquid nor solid possessing properties of both reported discovered by physicist

Greensboro, NC, May 4 – Discovery of what he believes to be a new state of matter with untold possibilities in launching fresh scientific research was reported today to the North Carolina Academy of Science here by Dr Charles M Heck, head of the department of physics at North Carolina State College.

This “new form of matter” seemed to the professor neither a liquid nor a solid, but had properties of both and was described by him as the “olecular state” because he first noted it in oils. The individual particles in the state were termed “olecules.”

The subject of his paper was “oil films in water; their peculiar motions and physical properties.”

“To the biologist,” he said, “where life processes seem always accompanied by the manufacture of oil, this discovery suggests a possible explanation of some of the methods of control which plants seem to have over their growth. If oil is the osmotic membrane of a cell, then the cell’s size or concentration may be changed at will by a slight increase or decrease in the thickness of the oil membrane.”

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“Possibly in animal life,” he said, “it may be involved in muscular or nerve control. To the physicist the discovery has added a new means of testing liquid structure. This may be done by noting porosity compared with other liquids in which one will not dissolve. The whole idea of a new state of matter with properties neither of a solid nor a liquid opens up an entirely new field of investigation which may lead to new discoveries of importance in many fields.”

Dr Heck said many experiments had demonstrated to him that films of oil at definite thicknesses allowed the passage of water through the oil film with great rapidity, but films a little thicker or thinner than these peculiar thicknesses invariable closed the flow of water through them.

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Photo: Charles M Heck, head of the Physics Department at North Carolina State College

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