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As far as solid, liquid, gas, plasma go, why is plasma the highest state?

Are there any other states of matter?

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notice here I use the word "state" and not "phase" – Argus Jun 22 '12 at 1:36
What makes you think there is a hierarchy at work here? – dmckee Jun 22 '12 at 2:00
It seems to me there must be a stepping up in heat that causes the phase change between relative states – Argus Jun 22 '12 at 2:21
If the question is why does plasma occur at the highest temperature then you should write that---and people will want to discuss the complexities that can arise in phase diagrams. As it stands it sounds like you've assigned some kind of worth to the states. – dmckee Jun 22 '12 at 2:42
up vote 5 down vote accepted

If by highest, you mean temperature (proportional to mean kinetic energy of the particles), then the plasma state is "higher" than the other states you list.

I think that there are other "higher" states of matter. For example, when it becomes energetically favorable for protons and electrons to combine into neutrons, you get a state called "neutron degenerate matter". (By the way, have you ever read "Dragon's Egg"?)

An even "higher" state would be QCD matter, e.g., quark-gluon plasma.

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Neutron stars don't have to be particularly hot. The linear order breaks down at strong pressure--- it's a two dimensional space really. Above quark gluon plasma is baryon-number-violating higgs neutral plasma, where weak instantons are no longer suppressed by Higgs mechanism and cause lepton to quark conversion (and vice-versa). – Ron Maimon Jun 22 '12 at 0:49
No I have not read that. Yes relative kinetics. – Argus Jun 22 '12 at 1:30

Why is plasma the highest state.

The highest state in terms of what?

There are lots and lots of states of matter. Personally, I like Bose-Einstein Condensates, but just because it's so fun to say.

Not all materials fit into the 3 classic states. Plasma is only one of many. Glass, for example, isn't really a solid, but it's not a liquid either.

Wikipedia has a nice description of the states of matter

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Glass is technically in the classical definition a liquid as if you put a cube of glass in a bowl and wait a few thousand years(depending on size of course" the glass will take the shape of its container. – Argus Jun 22 '12 at 1:44
@Argus: That gets said a lot, but it appears to be untrue. The simplest counter example are prehistoric obsidian (i.e. naturally occurring glass) projectile points, many of which have retained their cutting edges for thousands of years. – dmckee Jun 22 '12 at 2:03
Without being too argumentative glass can be considered a "phase" not a state in the classical sense because adding heat to sand makes glass then removing that heat does not give you sand again. – Argus Jun 22 '12 at 2:12
That's not even wrong. – Colin K Jun 22 '12 at 2:13
I learned that about glass in school too, but I'm pretty sure it's a myth...Wikipedia agrees ^.^ – silvermaple Jun 22 '12 at 2:50

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