Course: Science Subtest II
Lesson: Structure and Properties of Matter
Topic: Introduction      Page 4 of 8  

What Are the Structure and Properties of Matter?

Matter constitutes much of the observable universe. Though observable, light is not ordinarily considered matter. Matter consists of the physical material of the universe; it is anything that has mass and takes up space.

Matter is what objects are made up of, and it consists of identifiable chemical elements. These elements are made of atoms, which are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. The computer you are using, your body, the clothes you are wearing, and the air you are breathing are all examples of matter.

Matter can't be destroyed; it can only be converted from one state to another. This is the Law of Conservation of Matter.

Matter can exist in four distinct states at the macroscopic level: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Matter can further be classified as mixtures, elements, compounds, or solutions.

Numerous experiments by scientists have shown that the great variety of matter in the known universe is due to combinations of a little more than 100 elementary substances, called elements. As we proceed through this lesson, we will observe the many relationships between the properties of matter and the structure and composition of matter due to the different elements the matter contains.

Image Credit: NASA Hubble Gallery