Matter - Author Unknown, Adapted by Candy Mazze.
1. Everything in this world is made up of matter, from the books we read to the water we drink and the air we breathe. Now, what is this "matter" made of? The Matter is made of tiny microscopic particles called "atoms." These "atoms" are themselves made up of tinier subatomic particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons. The study of matter and its components is a branch of chemistry.
2. The origin of chemistry can be traced back to hundreds and hundreds of years. Before anyone knew about atoms, there lived people who were called alchemists. These alchemists tried to find out what things were made of. They tried to turn metals such as lead into gold by melting it. Most of the alchemists were women. The name for alchemy was "Opus mulierum", which means the "work of women" in Latin.
3. Today, scientists use bubble chambers to identify many subatomic particles. These bubble chambers contain liquid hydrogen near its boiling point. The subatomic particles that travel through this liquid hydrogen leave trails of bubbles behind them. Although these particles are invisible, the trails that they leave behind can be seen. These trails look different for each type of particle.
4. Matter can be divided into living matter and nonliving matter. Earth is home to many living things, including all kinds of plants and animals. Living matter can grow, reproduce, and move around. But the earth itself is a nonliving matter; it is a big rock. Non-living matter cannot grow, reproduce, or move around. (The earth does "move", but not by its own power; it is pulled by outside forces.)
5. Matter is usually in three forms: solids, liquids, and gases. Take a soda can and open it. The fizz that comes up is an example of gas, the cola inside is an example of a liquid, and the can is an example of a solid. The atoms in the solids are tightly bound together, giving solids a definite volume and shape. The atoms in the liquid are free-flowing and not too tightly bound, so the liquids have volume but no definite shape. The liquids are free-flowing and take the shape of the solids that hold them. The atoms in the gases are free-flowing and are loosely bound. So they have no definite volume or shape. Liquids and gasses are called fluids.
6. The fourth state of matter is called plasma. It only exists at very high temperatures inside the sun and other stars, or on earth at very low pressure. It consists of atoms split up by great amounts of heat or electricity. The particles that result from the split of atoms are called ions and electrons.