Chemistry

Matter

Solid, liquid and gaseous matter in this hot springSolid, liquid and gaseous matter in this hot spring Everything is made of matter. Every object, substance, chemical and material is matter. This includes not only things you can see easily, but also specks of dust too small to notice, houses and cars, living things like trees and your own body, the rocks of the Earth, the clouds in the sky and the invisible air around you. And not only objects and substances on Earth are made of matter. All of the planets and stars in deep space contain matter. In fact everything in the entire Universe is made of matter. All matter is made of tiny building blocks called atoms.


The emptiness of space?The emptiness of space?

Vacuum

There are places where there is no matter. If there is no matter then there is nothing at all. The total or complete absence of matter is called a vacuum. However a total vacuum is very unusual. “Space” is named because it is supposed to be just empty space, with no matter. But even in the depths of space, a few micro-particles of dust or some wispy bits of gas are floating about. These tiny bits of matter may be several metres apart, instead of crammed together like they are on Earth. But they are still present. Here on Earth, powerful vacuum pumps can suck most of the matter out of a container, but never quite all of it.
 

Scientists sometimes describe a fourth state of matter, called plasma. This is like a gas in which a number of its atoms or molecules have been ionized—given an electrical charge. This usually occurs at high temperatures.

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