Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THERE ARE three basic states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Even in today’s more deeply revealed world of quantum physics, these distinctions still apply. In fact, Science, the weekly magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, addresses this topic in its June 8, 2018 issue with Ben J. Powell’s “The Expanding Materials Multiverse.”

The article offers a most interesting “Motor Tour of the Multiverse,” tidbits of which I share here.

Powell describes this analogy: “Particles move freely in a gas, like cars on the open road. In a liquid, the motion is correlated—i.e., it depends on what other particles are doing, like city driving. Continuing this analogy, a glass is like a traffic jam, and a crystal resembles a parking lot with every particle neatly in place.”


Image from Science, June 8, 2018.

In the realm of quantum physics, concepts such as electron spin complicate matters: “”In ferromagnets,” Powell says, “the spins of unpaired electrons (radicals) align, creating a net magnetization. (See the figure.) This property allowed ancient civilizations to discover ferromagnetism.”

“In antiferromagnets,” Powell contrasts, “neighboring spins point in opposite direction, leaving no net magnetic moment. Thus, antiferromagnetism was not observed until the 20th century.”

Powell doesn’t extend his motor tour analogy to ferro/antiferro parking lots, but here’s my conjecture: The ferro lot has all the cars parked nose-in. The antiferro lot has them alternating nose-in/tail-in.

Powell notes, “We still await conclusive experimental evidence for topological spin liquids—proposed phases where the spins lack long-range order but display long-range quantum correlations known as entanglement.”

I’m stretching the analogy here, but entanglement sounds like the car-to-car communication envisioned in optimized vehicle autonomy.

Other tidbits in Powell’s article involve dipoles, molecules in which concentrations of positive charge are separated from those of negative charge. Questions cited include, “How common are dipole liquids?” and “Might the exotic behavior of ice X be understood as a quantum dipole liquid?”

Ice X, aka ice ten, is an extreme form of solid H2O. It’s obtained by freezing very hot liquid water under extremely high pressure. Theoretically, doped with the short-lived amino radical NH2, ice X may give rise to a superconductor.

An automotive analogy of this evades me at the moment, but I’m working on it. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2018


  1. Bill Kemp
    June 18, 2018

    Is Ice X because Ice 9 was already taken by Kurt Voneguat and used to destroy the world (and show that unfettered science can be dangerous)?

    • simanaitissays
      June 18, 2018

      A good thought. Actually, though, there are ices I through X of a non-literary type too.

  2. Martin Jackson
    June 18, 2018

    17 Jun.,’18
    Hi Dennnis;

    Just reading your A MOTOR TOUR OF THE MULTIVERSE and you touched on
    “car-to-car communication envisioned in optimized vehicle autonomy.”

    V2V, V2X schemes have been pushed pretty hard. The concept sends dynamic
    info on a car to the world in easily readable format allowing any
    selected car to be persued out of visible range in ~ 10 ft. location
    increment spacing. Sufficient data passes to assure the same vehicle is
    being followed. Security schemes only ‘assure’ the data is trustworthy.

    The desirable ‘visibility improvement’ will be counterfited by the more
    clever security hackers allowing control of almost any target area. As
    ‘over the air’ software updates gets the attention of the wrong people,
    the multi thousand dollar cost of radios and computers I can’t control
    only pay for big brother to control me. I haven’t seen any Car Mag
    opposition yet although I’m behind reading my Detroit R&T.

    Your knowledgeable thoughts on the subject are needed. The cop behind me
    is reading my speedometer

    Martin Jackson
    New Westminster, BC

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