Name: Ch'ng Yit Seong
Number Matric: 20102040442
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Forms of Matter
So what is a solid? Solids are usually hard because their molecules have been packed together. The closer your molecules are, the harder you are. Solids also can hold their own shape. A rock will always look like a rock unless something happens to it. The same goes for a diamond. Even when you grind up a solid into a powder, you will see little tiny pieces of that solid under a microscope. Liquids will move and fill up any container. Solids like their shape.
In the same way that a solid holds its shape, the atoms inside of a solid are not allowed to move around too much. This is one of the physical characteristics of solids. Atoms and molecules in liquids and gases are bouncing and floating around, free to move where they want. The molecules in a solid are stuck. The atoms still spin and the electrons fly around, but the entire atom will not change position.
Solids can be made up of many things. They can have pure elements or a variety of compounds inside. When you get more than one type of compound in a solid it is called a mixture. Most rocks are mixtures of many different compounds. Concrete is a good example of a manmade mixture.
The second state of matter we will discuss is a liquid. Solids are hard things you can hold. Gases are floating around you and in bubbles. What is a liquid? Water is a liquid. Your blood is a liquid. Liquids are an in-between state of matter. They can be found in between the solid and gas states. They don't have to be made up of the same compounds. If you have a variety of materials in a liquid, it is called a solution.
One characteristic of a liquid is that it will fill up the shape of a container. If you pour some water in a cup, it will fill up the bottom of the cup first and then fill the rest. The water will also take the shape of the cup. It fills the bottom first because of gravity. The top part of a liquid will usually have a flat surface. That flat surface is because of gravity too. Putting an ice cube (solid) into a cup will leave you with a cube in the middle of the cup; the shape won't change until the ice becomes a liquid.
Another trait of liquids is that they are difficult to compress. When you compress something, you take a certain amount and force it into a smaller space. Solids are very difficult to compress and gases are very easy. Liquids are in the middle but tend to be difficult. When you compress something, you force the atoms closer together. When pressure go up, substances are compressed. Liquids already have their atoms close together, so they are hard to compress. Many shock absorbers in cars compress liquids in tubes.
A special force keeps liquids together. Solids are stuck together and you have to force them apart. Gases bounce everywhere and they try to spread themselves out. Liquids actually want to stick together. There will always be the occasional evaporation where extra energy gets a molecule excited and the molecule leaves the system. Overall, liquids have cohesive (sticky) forces at work that hold the molecules together.
Gas is everywhere. There is something called the atmosphere. That's a big layer of gas that surrounds the Earth. Gases are random groups of atoms. In solids, atoms and molecules are compact and close together. Liquids have atoms a little more spread out. However, gases are really spread out and the atoms and molecules are full of energy. They are bouncing around constantly.
Gases can fill a container of any size or shape. That is one of their physical characteristics. Think about a balloon. No matter what shape you make the balloon it will be evenly filled with the gas atoms. The atoms and molecules are spread equally throughout the entire balloon. Liquids can only fill the bottom of the container while gases can fill it entirely.
You might hear the term vapor. Vapor and gas mean the same thing. The word vapor is used to describe gases that are usually found as liquids. Good examples are water or mercury (Hg). Compounds like carbon dioxide are usually gases at room temperature so scientists will rarely talk about carbon dioxide vapor. Water and mercury are liquids at room temperature so they get the vapor title.
Gases hold huge amounts of energy, and their molecules are spread out as much as possible. With very little pressure, when compared to liquids and solids, those molecules can be compressed. It happens all of the time. Combinations of pressure and decreasing temperature force gases into tubes that we use every day. You might see compressed air in a spray bottle or feel the carbon dioxide rush out of a can of soda. Those are both examples of gas forced into a space smaller than it would want, and the gas escapes the first chance it gets.