When a metal glows red hot is it a liquid?

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When a metal glows red hot is it a liquid?
« on: 14/09/2008 10:58:16 »
Jeff  asked the Naked Scientists:

I am wondering if metal that is heated so that it glows is actually  
technically in a liquid form when it is that hot?  

Does the same apply to wood in a camp fire?  Is it ever a liquid before turning into smoke?


-Jeff S. in Chicago, USA

What do you think?


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When a metal glows red hot is it a liquid?
« Reply #1 on: 14/09/2008 18:50:29 »
It depends on the metal. Tin and lead (among many others) will melt long before they get red hot. Mercury is molten at room temperature. On the other hand steel needs to be much hotter before it melts. Heating it to red hot softens it- that's the basis of the blacksmith's forge. Tungsten (and a few other metals) wil remain solid even at bright white heat- that's why it's used in lightbulb filaments.

Whether something is a solid, liquid or gas is defined by its properties. Solids have a defined shape and volume. Liquids have a defined volume but take up the shape of the container they are in. Gases take up the whole of the container so the container defines both the shape and the volume.
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