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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the basic properties of each physical state of matter: solid, liquid, and gas
  • Define and give examples of atoms and molecules
  • Classify matter as an element, compound, homogeneous mixture, or heterogeneous mixture with regard to its physical state and composition
  • Distinguish between mass and weight
  • Apply the law of conservation of matter

Matter is defined as anything that occupies space and has mass, and it is all around us. Solids and liquids are more obviously matter: We can see that they take up space, and their weight tells us that they have mass. Gases are also matter; if gases did not take up space, a balloon would stay collapsed rather than inflate when filled with gas.

Solids, liquids, and gases are the three states of matter commonly found on earth ( [link] ). A solid    is rigid and possesses a definite shape. A liquid    flows and takes the shape of a container, except that it forms a flat or slightly curved upper surface when acted upon by gravity. (In zero gravity, liquids assume a spherical shape.) Both liquid and solid samples have volumes that are very nearly independent of pressure. A gas    takes both the shape and volume of its container.

A beaker labeled solid contains a cube of red matter and says has fixed shape and volume. A beaker labeled liquid contains a brownish-red colored liquid. This beaker says takes shape of container, forms horizontal surfaces, has fixed volume. The beaker labeled gas is filled with a light brown gas. This beaker says expands to fill container.
The three most common states or phases of matter are solid, liquid, and gas.

A fourth state of matter, plasma, occurs naturally in the interiors of stars. A plasma    is a gaseous state of matter that contains appreciable numbers of electrically charged particles ( [link] ). The presence of these charged particles imparts unique properties to plasmas that justify their classification as a state of matter distinct from gases. In addition to stars, plasmas are found in some other high-temperature environments (both natural and man-made), such as lightning strikes, certain television screens, and specialized analytical instruments used to detect trace amounts of metals.

A cutting torch is being used to cut a piece of metal. Bright, white colored plasma can be seen near the tip of the torch, where it is contacting the metal.
A plasma torch can be used to cut metal. (credit: “Hypertherm”/Wikimedia Commons)

Some samples of matter appear to have properties of solids, liquids, and/or gases at the same time. This can occur when the sample is composed of many small pieces. For example, we can pour sand as if it were a liquid because it is composed of many small grains of solid sand. Matter can also have properties of more than one state when it is a mixture, such as with clouds. Clouds appear to behave somewhat like gases, but they are actually mixtures of air (gas) and tiny particles of water (liquid or solid).

The mass    of an object is a measure of the amount of matter in it. One way to measure an object’s mass is to measure the force it takes to accelerate the object. It takes much more force to accelerate a car than a bicycle because the car has much more mass. A more common way to determine the mass of an object is to use a balance to compare its mass with a standard mass.

Questions & Answers

what is the oxidation number of this compound fecl2,fecl3,fe2o3
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of the above question.
Draw the Lewis structure of the following : Nitrate anion Nitrogen dioxide
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cells 1 n 2, ecology. insects. genetics. plants. nutrition.
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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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