Science Articles

The States of Matter

Matter commonly exists in three states- solids, liquids and gases. There are a few other states of matter as well, such as plasma, Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) etc.

The world around us is wondrous and enchanting. Blessed are we to have a place such as Earth to call our own. But have you ever stopped to wonder what really constitutes Earth and all its elements?

Well, let us enlighten you on the topic. The earth and everything on it is made up of matter. What is matter, you may ask. According to Science, anything that has mass and occupies space is known as matter. The trees around you, your favourite toy car, the water you drink and the air you breathe are all matter. And hey, did you know, even you’re made up of matter!

Matter commonly exists in three states- solids, liquids and gases. There are a few other states of matter as well, such as plasma, Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) etc. but those are a part of advanced science, which I’m sure you, our budding scientists, will study at a later date. For now, let’s concentrate on solids, liquids and gases.

Composition Of Matter-

Matter is composed of tiny components called molecules, which are in turn composed of atoms. Atoms are tiny, tiny particles or building blocks which make up substance. These atoms and molecules are packed together to constitute everything you see around you. How tightly the molecules are packed together in a substance determines the state of that substance- whether solid, liquid or gas. Another important term to be considered here is intermolecular space– the space between individual molecules of a substance.

Solid State Of Matter-

In the solid state, molecules are tightly packed together in such a way that they have no space to move around (yes, molecules can move!). There is negligible intermolecular space between the molecules. The tightly packed molecules help the object to be firm, stable and to retain its shape. Books, toys, wood are all examples of the solid state of matter.

Liquid State Of Matter-

In the liquid state of matter, the molecules are loosely packed together. They have space between them and are thus able to move around. The intermolecular space between molecules is comparatively large. That is the reason why liquids are not firm, but fluid, which means they can flow. Liquids also do not have any shape of their own. They simply take the shape of the container in which they are kept. Water, milk, lemonade are examples of the liquid state of matter.

Gaseous State Of Matter-  

The gaseous state of matter is characterised by extremely loosely packed molecules. The intermolecular space between the molecules is very large, which allows the molecules to move around helter, skelter and any which way. That is the reason why, when you spray perfume, the fragrance travels in all directions and cannot be restricted to one place. Gases are thus fluid and have no definite shape. Oxygen gas, water vapour are examples of the gaseous state of matter.

These, then, are the three states of matter. The interesting thing is that these states can interchange from one to the other. But, more about that at a later date.

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