What Is Matter Forms of Matter

Look around you. Everything around you is made up of matter. Matter is the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the home you live in.

Table 2.1 International System of Measurement [Système International d'Unités (SI Units)]

Unit

Abbreviation

Description

Scientific Notation

meter

m

approximately 3 feet

1 m

centimeter

cm

1/100 of a meter, about

10-2

V2 inch

millimeter

mm

1/1000 of a meter

10-3

micrometer

|im

1/1,000,000 of a meter, often

10-6

called a micron

nanometer

nm

1/1,000,000,000, the size of a

10-9

single molecule single molecule

Matter is anything that has mass and volume. Mass is the amount of matter in an object and volume is the amount of space occupied by an object. Matter exists in three principal forms, called phases—gas, liquid, and solid.

Gas, or vapor, is the most energetic phase of matter. In gases, the particles (individual atoms or molecules) are far apart from each other and can move about freely. Air neither holds its shape nor its volume because particles move freely through open space. As a result, gases expand to fill the shape of their container. A gas, such as oxygen, is in constant motion and takes the shape of and completely fills any container holding it.

In liquids, the particles are much closer together. So liquids are far more difficult to compress. The particles that make up liquids move about, enabling liquids to change shape easily. A liquid takes the shape of the container holding it.

In solids, the forces between the particles are strong enough to hold the particles together in specific positions causing solids to maintain their shape. As an example, copper holds it shape because the particles stay bound together in a regular pattern.

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