26 August 2011

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Understanding Matter What is Matter?

Understanding Matter What is Matter?
Some common textbook definitions of matter are:
Matter is anything that takes up space and has mass.
Matter has mass and volume.
According to modern physics, matter consists of various types of particles, each with mass and size.

Matter, matter everywhere.
There's matter in your hair.
Matter in the air.
There's even matter in a pear!
There's liquid matter, solid matter, and matter that's a gas.
Even you are matter, because you have volume and mass!

The most familiar examples of material particles are the electron, the proton and the neutron. of these particles form atoms.

There are more than 100 different kinds of atoms, each kind constituting a unique chemical element.

A combination of atoms forms a molecule. Atoms and/or molecules can join together to form a compound.

Matter can exist in several states, also called phases. The three most common states are known as solid, liquid and gas.

A single element or compound of matter might exist in more than one of the three states, depending on the temperature and pressure.

Less familiar states of matter include plasma, foam and Bose-Einstein condensate. These states occur under special conditions.

Different kinds of matter can combine to form substances that may not resemble any of the original ingredients.

For example, hydrogen (a gaseous element) and oxygen (another gaseous element) combine to form water (a liquid compound at room temperature).

The process of such combination is called a chemical reaction.
A chemical reaction involves interactions between the electrons of the atoms, but does not affect the nuclei of the atoms.

In some situations, matter is converted into energy by atomic reactions, also known as nuclear reactions.
This type of reaction is fundamentally different from the chemical reaction because it involves changes in the nuclei of atoms.

The most common example of an atomic reaction is the hydrogen fusion that occurs inside the sun.

The immense pressure inside the sun, and inside other stars, forces atoms of hydrogen together to form atoms of helium.

In this process, some of the mass is converted to energy according to the formula

E = mc 2

where E is the energy in joules,
m is the mass in kilograms,
and c is the speed of light, which is approximately 2.99792 x 10 8 meters per second in a vacuum.

In beginning scientists thought that the atom was the smallest piece of matter.
At that time, the atom was thought to be the building block of matter.

In 1911, a scientist named Ernest Rutherford discovered that atoms are really made of a positively charged center called the nucleus orbited by negatively charged particles called

In 1932, scientists discovered that the nucleus of an atom is made of smaller particles called protons and neutrons

Protons carry a positive charge while neutrons have no charge at all.

Protons and neutrons are each called nucleons since they are found in the nucleus. When they were discovered, scientists thought they were the smallest piece of matter

Scientists know that opposite charges attract and like charges repel, so they wondered why the protons in the nucleus didn’t fly apart.

They found the answer in 1947 when they discovered other particles that they named mesons.
Mesons hold the protons and neutrons together to form the nucleus.

As scientists did more experiments, they began to realize that there was something funny about protons and neutrons.

In 1968 they discovered that protons and neutrons are made up of
smaller particles they called quarks. Scientists discovered six different types of quarks: Up, Down, Strange, Charm, Top and Bottom.

Protons have two Up quarks and one Down quark while neutrons have two Down quarks and one Up quark. Quarks are held to each other by particles scientists called gluons

Today, we know that even protons and neutrons are not indivisible; they can be divided into quarks, while electrons are part of a particle family called leptons.

Both quarks and leptons are elementary particles, and are currently seen as being the fundamental constituents of matter.

Scientists used to think that atoms were the smallest bit of matter, but they discovered that it wasnt.

Do you think that the quark is the smallest piece of matter or do you think that there might be something smaller inside the quark?

The common definition of matter is anything that has both mass and volume (occupies space)
Matter is commonly said to exist in four states (or phases):
Solid, liquid, gas and plasma.
However, advances in experimental techniques have realized other phases, previously only theoretical constructs, such as Bose–Einstein condensates and fermionic condensates.
A focus on an elementary-particle view of matter also leads to new phases of matter, such as the quark–gluon plasma.

What is object?
All objects take up the space.
Your Television is taking space on table.
You are taking up space on the chair.

Objects have mass.

What is Mass?

Mass is how much there is of an object.
Mass is related to how much something weighs.

Mass and weight are two different things.
The unit for mass is a gram.
A nickel has the mass of about one gram.

Objects that take up space and have mass are called matter.

Everything around you is made up of matter.
Chocolate cake is made up of matter.
You are made of matter.

You can see matter makes up the walls of your home or your office or your classroom.
Matter is large and Matter is small.

Anything you see and can feel is made of atoms.

All atoms are too small to be seen with the naked eye or even a microscope, although there are some new types of microscopes that are now able to see larger atoms such as gold.

All matter is the same because all matter is made up of atoms.

Matter is also different because objects can be made up of different kinds of atoms.
Gold is made of one kind of atom-gold atoms.

Salt is made up of two different kinds of atoms-sodium atoms and chloride atoms.
You use your sense of taste and smell to tell the difference between spinach and an orange.

The measurement of mass and other characteristics that can be seen without changing how that object looks are its physical properties.

When you look at oranges, you know that they are oranges because of their color, shape, and smell. Mass, color, shape, volume, and density are some physical properties.

Density is an important physical property.
Density is the mass of a substance per unit volume.
Volume is the amount of space an object occupies.

Properties describe matter.

A block of wood, milk and air all have properties.
All the material on earth is in three states-solid, liquid, and gas.
The "state" of the matter refers to the group of matter with the same properties.
In other words, you group the objects together according to their properties.
examples of solids are the computer, the desk, and the floor.

Liquids –
Milk is a liquid.
Milk is liquid matter.
It has a size or volume.
Volume means it takes up space.
But milk doesn't have a definite shape.
It takes the shape of its container.

Gases –
You can't see oxygen. It's invisible. It is a gas. A gas is matter that has no shape or size of its own. Gases have no color.

Chemical properties-
These are properties that can only be observed by changing the identity of the substance. A piece of paper burns and turns to a black substance.
After the flame goes out you can no longer burn the new substance.
The chemical properties have been changed.

Matter is constantly changing. Ice in your soda melts, glass breaks, and paper is ripped. When ice in your soda melts where does it go? What does it become?

If you remember, ice is water in the solid state.
When you drop the ice cube into the liquid, it begins to melt because the temperature is higher than that of the ice cube.
The ice cube becomes liquid water.
This is an example of a physical change.
The solid water turned to liquid water.
It doesn't turn into soil or macaroni.
It remains water.
If it did change into soil or macaroni, your drink would taste terrible and you would have an example of a chemical change.

Chemical changes are changing substances into other substances.
A real example of a chemical change is spoiling milk or burning toast.
Milk needs to be in the refrigerator or else it will go bad.

If you've ever seen or smelled spoiled milk, it is not a pretty sight.
The milk gets a sour odor and becomes lumpy.

Unlike physical changes, you cannot reverse chemical changes.

You can melt ice to get water and freeze that water to get ice again.
You cannot make milk unspoiled.

Wind can be felt on your skin and you can see the wind move branches of trees. But wind itself it not matter. It is the movement of air, which itself is matter.

Electricity is similar.

You can see the result of electricity at work - a light bulb lighting up for example and you can feel electricity as an electric shock

But electricity is just the movement/flow of an electric charge - it is not matter itself. It is the movement of matter (electrons).

Sound is the result of air movement against your eardrum and not matter itself.
A flame or fire can also pose difficulties.

The smoke that rises up from the fire or flame contains vaporized gases and small particles and therefore contains matter.

But the fire and flame themselves, the light and heat emitted, are energy, not matter.

In recent years, scientists have confirmed the existence of a substance called antimatter.

The electron has an antiparticle twin called a positron, with equal mass but opposite electric charge.

Similarly, the proton has an antimatter twin called an antiproton, and the neutron has an antimatter twin called an antineutron.

If a particle of matter encounters its antiparticle, both are converted entirely to energy according to the above formula, where m is the combined mass of the particle and the antiparticle.

Small amounts of antimatter have been isolated in laboratory conditions, but no one has yet succeeded in creating a controlled a matter/antimatter reaction, or even an uncontrolled reaction of significant size.

Suggested Reading –

Understanding Antimatter


Reality views by sm –
Friday, August 26, 2011

Sources –


Kirtivasan Ganesan August 26, 2011  

If one needs to pass exams, you need to learn the textbook definition.
If one needs to pass a law, follow the parliament procedures.

mermaid gallery August 26, 2011  

my head is spinning now....does that matter?...i did need a refresher course....

SM August 26, 2011  

Kirti,thanks.Mermaid gallery,thanks.

Rakesh Kumar August 26, 2011  

You have presented a long lesson of physics.
Very nice.

You have told that
'You are made of matter.'

Here,I agree with you only to the extent that only my physical body is made of matter.

My real "I" is not.

Does my 'thought' or 'emotion' is made up of any matter ?
The matters which I feel in dreams are made up of which matters?

Amrit August 26, 2011  

Matter of fact, definition of matter is correct. So what is Anti Matter?

Pushpa August 27, 2011  

Informative post,thanks for the comments SM.

sm,  August 27, 2011  

Rakesh Kumar,thanks.A,thanks.Pushpa,thanks.
Before writing on Antimatter i thought i should write on matter which will make it easy to understand.
Rakesh,about your questions difficult to answer.
or to give satisfactory answer.