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14 of the Strangest Materials Found in the World

  When we think of materials, we tend to think of liquids, solids and gases. The reality is, however, that there are various kinds of substance that don't really fit into scientific conventions, taking on characteristics of materials in two or more different states. Here are 14 of the strangest materials that you can find on Planet Earth: 
 
14. Hydrophobic materials
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Hydrophobia is a fear of water. Hydrophobic materials repel water as if they were scared of it, and they are often used as covering to protect against water, dirt and various other liquids. They are made with silicon dioxide and titanium nanoparticles. Such materials can be found in sprays and gels for clothes, footwear, tablecloths and building materials.
13. Hexafluoride gas
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This gas is five times heavier than air, and it doesn't escape from a container that it's placed in. This means that solid objects can float on the gas' surface, as if they're floating on an invisible body of water. It's also non-toxic, so it can be inhaled. When you do so, it dramatically deepens your tone of voice. 
12. Gallium
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Seeing a liquid metal is one thing, but seeing a liquid metal that melts at room temperature is another thing entirely. Try placing gallium in a glass of hot water and watch it melt before your eyes. Gallium is used in several high tech industries.
11. Exploding powder
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There are two kinds of compound that don't have any industrial application, namely nitrogen triiodide and fulminating silver. This is because they explode as soon as they're touched, turning into clouds of brightly-colored smoke. Although it's fun to watch, this process has no use whatsoever. 
10. Memory metal
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Nitinol is a titanium and nickel alloy that's capable of remembering its original form. All you need to do is heat nitinol after bending it in order for it to return to its original shape. 
9. Programmable wood
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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have managed to create wooden laminates that adopt a certain shape when wet. The laminates are infused  with a special smart material to give them the ability to change shape. 
8. Hot ice
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Sodium acetate is practically indistinguishable from regular ice when in crystal form. As soon as it's touched when it's in liquid form, it will solidify. It actually feels warm to the touch, and is the secret substance that's found in chemical heat pads. 
 
7. Hydrogel
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This substance has a whole bunch of different applications, from breast implants, to holding moisture in soil. Its signature characteristic is its ability to change size in accordance with temperature, leading some to  believe that it's actually alive! 
6. Self-repairing materials
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These amazing substances are already used in smartphone covers, building material and medical purposes. They contain microcapsules of bacteria that are activated when damaged. The bacteria fills in any cracks in the structure to restore it to perfect condition.
5. Aerogel 
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Graphene is set to change the world, and aerogel has been developed on the basis of that material. Aerogel has many unique properties - it's a solid that's transparent, flame-resistant, and 500 times less dense than water. What's more is that it's just 1.5 times denser than air despite being a solid. It's still prohibitively expensive at the moment, but it will become more prevalent in the world in the future. 
4. Cesium
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This most active of metals has a very low melting point, and will even melt if you hold a vial of it in your hands. When left alone, cesium hardens and forms into beautiful crystals. It's used to power atomic clocks, which are the most precise clocks in the world. 
3. Magnetic putty 
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This material is just like the stuff that your kids or grand-kids might play with, only that it's filled with a series of micro magnets that get charged when they come into contact with a magnet. 
2. Graphene
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Graphene is a thin layer of pure carbon that has the potential to change the world. It's a better conductor of electricity than copper and some 200 times stronger than steel while being six times lighter. It's also almost perfectly transparent, absorbing just 2% of the light that hits it. 
1. Plutonium
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Plutonium is the stuff that's used in nuclear reactors and missiles. Although Hollywood would have you believe that it glows bright green, it's actually quite dull in appearance. It also tarnishes when it comes into contact with air. It's a very dangerous metal, and it requires protective measures to be taken prior to it being handled. 
 
Content and image source: Bright Side
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