inert matter



We explain what inert matter is, what its characteristics are and what living matter is. His relationship with living beings and examples.

Inert matter does not have movement or will of its own.

What is inert matter?

When we speak of inert matter, we refer to all bodies and substances that are not part of a living organism, that is, that they are not inserted in some Lifecycle: born, grow, reproduce and die. In this sense, inert matter is opposed to living matter or to living beings.

The world is made up of living beings and inanimate things, in various mechanisms of interaction. While the former possess movement voluntary and require an inner balance to preserve their Energy and continue to exist, inert matter is subject only to elemental physical forces and processes transformation (biological or not), without involving any type of will, vital need or the like.

Inert matter is so called because it does not present movement or will, which shows a passive existence in the universe, compared to the active of living beings.

There are also other definitions of inert matter according to the branch of the science or the item in which it is defined, for example:

In chemistry, an element or compound is defined as inert when it does not react chemically. The Noble gases (helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), radon (Rn)) have very low chemical reactivity, that is, they practically do not participate as reactants in any chemical reaction, which is why they are said to be inert.

When they occur pesticides (substances that prevent and destroy pests), its components are divided into active or inert, being the inerts those that do not cause a toxic effect on the pest (species of any type harmful to the human being) to combat, which does not mean that they are not toxic to other species, to humans or to the environment.

In the arms industry, inert ammunition is defined, which are some materials that despite being explosive or incendiary, are harmless to humans.

Characteristics of inert matter

Inert matter is part of the background against which life passes.

Inert matter can be very diverse, since it is made up of all the elements and substances of the universe, as long as they are not configuring any structure of a living being. It is about the things and substances whose existence forms part of the background against which the life passes. Even the organic material decomposed can be considered inert matter, once the life that animated it has been completely extinguished.

Living matter and inert matter

A fossil is considered inert matter since it has been dead for a long time.

The boundaries between living and inert matter can be difficult to draw, although in day-to-day practice the difference between them is very clear. If we consider that our bodies are made from them atoms than a rock or a piece of metalJust organized in a radically different way, it turns out that the difference between inert and living matter is a matter of perspective. For example, a fossil is considered inert matter because it has been dead for a long time, even though it was once living matter.

It is easier to differentiate the living from the inert on a daily plane, taking into account the behavior of things (in fact, if you have conduct, its alive). But on the strictly physical or chemical plane it is much more difficult to clarify. This is due to a certain mystery that still accompanies our considerations of life. For example, if we consider a body of a living human being and another body of a recently deceased human being. How are they different from this perspective, if they are made up of the same atoms, organized in a practically identical way?

Relationship between inert matter and living beings

Living beings cannot live without water, but it is far from being a living being.

Living beings and inert matter are linked in different ways, such as:

  • Nutrition. Although living beings are composed of organic matter, we must also consume certain inert matter, that is, specific elements that allow us to maintain the homeostasis, that is, the biochemical balance. For example, living beings cannot live without Water, which is not a living being.
  • Biochemical synthesis. Living organisms not only absorb inert matter to nourish themselves, but also change the configuration of such matter through their metabolic processes. Thus, organisms can build molecules organic substances from dispersed elements (as do the plants with the photosynthesis), altering the constitution of the inert matter around it.
  • Decomposition. Life, however, always ends and the organic molecules that made up the body of living beings decompose by the action of other organisms and natural elements, becoming more basic substances again and eventually becoming inert matter.

Examples of inert matter

Examples of inert matter are extremely abundant in our daily lives. Stones, metals, concrete, plastic, the Petroleum, ceramics, glass, paper, all these are forms of inert matter. So are the objects that we make with them: statues, pipes, buildings, toys, polyesters, cups, plates, glasses, mirrors, books and a huge etcetera.

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