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MATTER

Matter in Our Surroundings

Everything in this universe is made up of material which scientists have named “matter”. The air we breathe, the food we eat, stones, clouds, stars, plants and animals, even a small drop of water or a particle of sand– each thing is matter. We can also see as we look around that all the things mentioned above occupy space, that is, volume and have mass.

Since early times, human beings have been trying to understand their surroundings. Early Indian philosophers classified matter in the form of five basic elements – the “Panch Tatva”– air, earth, fire, sky and water.

According to them everything, living or nonliving, was made up of these five basic elements. Ancient Greek philosophers had arrived at a similar classification of matter. Modern day scientists have evolved two types of classification of matter based on their physical properties and chemical nature.

Physical Nature of Matter

MATTER IS MADE UP OF PARTICLES

For a long time, two schools of thought prevailed regarding the nature of matter. One school believed matter to be continuous like a block of wood, whereas, the other thought that matter was made up of particles like sand. There must be millions of tiny particles in just one crystal of potassium permanganate, which keep on dividing themselves into smaller and smaller particles. Ultimately a stage is reached when the particles cannot divide further into smaller particles.

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