What is matter?
As discovered by scientists, matter is made up of very tiny particles and these particles are so small that we cannot see them with naked eyes. It has been observed that matter exists in nature in different forms. Some substances are rigid and have a fixed shape like wood and stone; some substances can flow and take the shape of their container like water, while there are forms of matter that do not have definite shape or size such as air. Thus, matter can be classified into different categories based on the physical properties exhibited by them and the states in which they exist; these are called states of matter.
Following are the three basic states of matter:
Apart from the above mentioned three, there are 2 more states of matter which we do not see in our everyday life. They are Plasma & Bose-einstein condensate.
- In solids, particles are tightly or closely packed.
- The gaps between the particles are tiny and hence it is tough to compress them.
- Solid has a fixed shape and volume.
- Due to its rigid nature, particles in solid can only vibrate about their mean position and cannot move.
- Force of attraction between particles is adamant.
- The rate of diffusion in solids is very low.
- An example of solids: solid ice, sugar, rock, wood, etc.
- In a liquid, particles are less tightly packed as compared to solids.
- Liquids take the shape of the container in which they are kept.
- Liquids are difficult to compress as particles have less space between them to move.
- Liquids have fixed volume but no fixed shape.
- The rate of diffusion in liquids is higher than that of solids.
- Force of attraction between the particles is weak than solids.
- Example of liquids: water, milk, blood, coffee, etc.
- In gases, particles are far apart from each other.
- Force of attraction between the particles is negligible and they can move freely.
- Gases have neither a fixed volume nor a fixed shape.
- The gaseous state has the highest compressibility as compared to solids and liquids.
- The rate is diffusion is higher than solids and liquids.
- The kinetic energy of particles is higher than solids and liquids.
- An example of gases: air, helium, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc.
The three states of matter can be represented by the following diagram which describes all the properties as discussed above.
- Plasma is a not so generally seen form of matter. Plasma consists of particles with extremely high kinetic energy. Electricity is used to ionize noble gases and make glowing signs, which is essentially plasma.
- Superheated forms of plasma are what stars are.
- Discovered in 1995, Bose-Einstein condensates were made with the help of the advancements in technology.
- Carl Weiman and Eric Cornell cooled a sample of rubidium with the help of magnets and lasers to within a few degrees of absolute zero.
- At the said temperature, the motion of the molecules become negligible. As this brings down the kinetic energy, the atoms no longer stay separate but they begin to clump together. As the atoms join together they form a super-atom.
- Light slows down as it passes through a BEC helping scientist to study more about the nature of light as a wave and particle.
- BEC’s also show properties of a superfluid which implies, it flows without friction.
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