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MATTER

Dust, living things, oceans, mountains, and planets—everything you can touch is made from matter. With electron microscopes, scientists can see that all matter is made from particles—tiny specks of matter that stick together like crystals in a cube of sugar.

WHERE DOES MATTER COME FROM?

All matter in the Universe was created by the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. In less than a second, the Universe was filled with vast amounts of energy, such as light and heat. The explosion made the Universe expand. As it expanded, it cooled, and particles with MASS formed and clumped together.

BIG BANG

The Universe is still expanding and cooling today. As it cools, the force of gravity draws floating particles of matter together to form new stars and galaxies.

WHAT ARE STATES OF MATTER?

Most matter on Earth exists in one of three states—solid, liquid, or gas. In a solid, the particles are packed closely together in a rigid pattern. In a liquid, the particles are touching, but tumble freely over each other. In a gas, the particles are widely spaced and move around at random.

WHAT ARE FUNDAMENTAL PARTICLES?

Matter is built from particles. The smallest particles are fundamental particles. Scientists have discovered two kinds of fundamental particles—quarks and leptons. Evidence for quarks and leptons is found by smashing together larger particles at very high speeds. The particles split and new particles are formed.

MASS

Mass is the amount of matter an object contains. All objects with mass have inertia (a force is needed to start, stop, or change their motion), and are attracted to each other by the force of gravity.

CAN MATTER BE DESTROYED?

Matter can be destroyed by changing its mass into pure energy. This can happen when a particle of matter collides with a particle of antimatter. The matter and antimatter annihilate (destroy) each other, and vanish as a flash of radiation.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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