subject in physics



We explain what matter is in physics and what its characteristics are. In addition, the states it presents and its structure.

Matter is the result of the reactions and properties of some basic components.

What is matter (physics)?

According to the approach of the physical, matter refers to any entity endowed with mass own and able to occupy a space on a certain moment. All physical objects are made of matter, from a car to a atom and the particles elementals that compose it.

The notion of matter within the field of physics has been defined and redefined over the centuries, from ancient times (when the notion of atoms emerged), to the times of Isaac Newton and later Albert Einstein. The discovery of subatomic matter and the inauguration of particle physics has been the most revolutionary event in the field when it comes to thinking about matter.

Therefore, the initial definition of matter that we gave was sufficient for the classical branches of physics, but it is problematic within the field of science. quantum mechanics, where the notions of "mass" and "space" are much more complicated.

Characteristics of matter in physics

Antimatter is matter made up of antiparticles.

Matter has certain specific properties, such as mass and volume, that is, matter occupies a region determined in space-time. This means that matter has measurable properties, such as the proportions (length, width, height), the density, the weight, hardness, fluidity, malleability, among many others. To know matter is to understand precisely its physical properties, radically different from those of, for example, the Energy.

On the other hand, matter must be in one of the known states or phases, according to the distribution, grouping and properties of its particles. Thus, matter is presented in the state solid, liquid Y gaseous, although also, under certain extreme conditions of pressure and temperature, it can be found in a state plasmatic (ionized gas). There are other more complex states of matter that are studied in advanced fields of physics and that are unstable.

In addition to matter, there is the antimatter, which can be understood as matter composed of antiparticles. For every elementary particle that exists, there is another identical but with electric charge opposite, which causes the annihilation of both when interacting.

States of the material

In the gaseous state the particles have a very weak attractive force.

There are three main states of matter, according to physics: solid, liquid and gaseous, although there are also other less frequent states, such as plasma or fermionic condensates, reproducible only in the laboratory. Each physical state has different characteristics that have a lot to do with how the particles of the system under study are arranged in space and the energy they have.

  • Solid. The particles of solid matter are very, very close together, prey to very strong attractive forces. Therefore, they behave as a single body, with great cohesion, density and a constant shape. They present resistance to fragmentation and have low or no fluidity: they cannot be compressed and, when they are broken or fragmented, other solids of smaller size are obtained from them.
  • Liquids. The particles of liquid matter are held together by attractive forces, much weaker and less ordered than those of solids. For this reason, liquids lack a fixed and stable form, as well as cohesion and endurance, so they acquire the shape of the container that contains them. They have great fluidity (they can be inserted into small spaces) and a surface tension that makes them adhere to surfaces, they are not very compressible and, with the exception of the WaterThey tend to contract in the presence of cold.
  • Gases. The particles of gaseous matter are in such a state of dispersion and distance that they hardly manage to stay together completely: the force of attraction between them is weak, which causes a state of disorder between them. Failing to come together and form a massive compact body, the gravity it has no appreciable effect on them. They occupy a much larger volume than liquids and solids, since they tend to expand until they occupy the entire space that contains them. They lack a fixed shape and volume and are sometimes colorless and / or odorless.

Matter can be transformed from one state to another, just by altering the conditions of temperature Y Pressure to which you are. Its chemical properties, however, will remain the same.

Structure of matter

Protons make up the main part of the mass and weight in the atom.

All known matter is composed of microscopic units called atoms formed, in turn, by three subatomic particles:

  • Electrons. Endowed with a negative charge and small size, these particles orbit the nucleus of the atom in a set of trajectories called orbitals, with a greater or lesser amount of Energy according to its proximity or its distance from the nucleus.
  • Protons. Endowed with a positive charge and larger, they are found in the nucleus of the atom, and constitute the main part of its mass and weight.
  • Neutrons. Without any electrical charge, they are found in the nucleus of the atom together with the protons, providing mass and weight to the atom although they do not influence its electromagnetism.

Depending on the number of electrons, protons and neutrons that an atom has, it will make up the chemical elements known and categorized in the Periodic Table. For example, the simplest atom that exists is hydrogen, which has only one electron and one proton.

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