The 9 general properties of matter

In this article you will find an explanation about general properties of matter. We will see how these have to do with the physical and chemical characteristics of bodies or objects.

You will find a summary of each of these properties and examples of each.

    What is the problem?

    Before talking about the general properties of matter, we will try to explain what matter is. it is the main component of bodies (i.e. physical objects); it is the substance that composes these objects. It can be in different ways and undergo different changes.

    Matter has a number of properties, both physical and chemical, which can be perceived by our senses. At the chemical level, matter can appear in three different states: liquid, solid or gas.

    General properties of matter

    What are the general properties of matter? It is these characteristics of the same, which are linked to their physical properties, such as the weight of the objects, their volume, size, length … as well as their chemical properties, by which matter itself modifies its composition.

    1. Volume

    The first of the general properties of matter that we will talk about is volume. The volume is the amount of three-dimensional space surrounding a closed surface; it is the space occupied by a body (or the space it contains).

    This space has three dimensions: height, width and length. The unit of measure for volume, according to the SI (International System), is the cubic meter, which is expressed in m3. An example of a volume can be found in books; its volume is equal to its length x width x thickness.

    2. Weight

    Weight, another property of matter; it consists of the gravitational force acting on a body. Mathematically, the weight is equal to: Fg (gravitational force) = m (mass) xg (acceleration of gravity). (Note: the acceleration of gravity = 9.8 m / sec2). In this case, its unit according to the SI is the Newton, and is expressed by: kg · m · sec-2.

    When we speak of weight, we are referring, although it seems repetitive, to the weight of an object; heavy objects (eg a metal box) are more difficult to grab or slide than items that weigh less (eg a pen). In this way, the heavier a body weighs, the greater the gravitational force acting on it.

    To illustrate this with an example, let’s think about the weight of a person; according to the mentioned mathematical formula, its weight on the Moon will be much less than that of the Earth, and this is due to the fact that the gravity on the Moon is less.

    3. Mobility

    The next of the general properties of matter is mobility, which it is related to the speed at which a body moves in the environment.

    In physics, mobility has to do with the ease with which a charged particle through solid material moves, under the influence of an electric field; thus, the greater the speed at which this particle moves, the greater this property, that is, its mobility.

    An example of mobility; a tennis player will have greater mobility than a person who has never trained, which will help him reach the balls.

    4. Inertia

    Inertia, another of the general properties of matter, is a physical property of it; applied to a body, it implies that it remains at rest or moves at a constant and rectilinear speed. It is a passive property of matter.

    To illustrate an example of inertia, imagine driving a car at a certain speed. It suddenly accelerates; people inside, just like us, will “stick” to the seats in the vehicle, due to inertia, which forces the body to try and maintain people’s initial speed.

    If, on the other hand, the car brakes suddenly, the people inside the vehicle will move forward (this is why the seat belt is essential for road safety).

      5. Porosity

      The porosity is this property of bodies full of small holes; this characteristic allows liquid or gaseous substances to circulate through bodies in the solid state. Thus, bodies or objects that have pores (porosity) are permeable.

      An example of a porous object is a colander (a kitchen utensil), which we use to filter liquids and remove particles that we don’t want (or don’t want to concentrate).

      6. Hardness (impenetrability)

      The hardness is this property that certain objects have of resisting the penetration of a load. Another definition of hardness is “the resistance that opposes a body to scratching.” For example, a diamond is extremely hard, which is why it is very difficult (if not impossible) to scratch it.

      This property of matter is measured using a scale, called the Mohs scale, which is based on the scratching of one mineral by another. This scale goes from 1 to 10, being talcum 1 (the less hard material), and diamond 10 (the hardest material).

      7. Elasticity

      Elasticity is a physical property of matter; this implies that an elastic body stretches or deforms, due to a force exerted on it. Elastic bodies can exert a force opposite to the force that deforms them; in addition, they can return to their original shape if the force exerted on them ceases. The SI unit of elasticity is the pascal (Pa).

      An example of elasticity is stretch rubber; if this force is no longer exerted, the rubber returns to its original state and shape (this is elasticity). In other words; elasticity implies that a body returns to its original shape when force is no longer applied to it.

      8. Severability

      Divisibility implies that a body can be divided into exactly equal parts; the result of this property is an exact and measurable result.

      An example of divisibility is found in everyday life; imagine that you have to divide a cake into eight equal parts, or a 1L juice to be divided between 5 people. Divisibility is the property that is part of these processes.

      9. The weather

      The last of the general properties of matter is mass; Mass measures the amount of material contained in a given substance (Regardless of its location in space). Thus, this property is not influenced by the force of gravity; nor does it depend on the shape of the body or the object in question.

      In physics, we understand the mass of a body as the “resistance it offers to change its resting condition,” or the constant speed at which it moves. Its unit in the SI is the kilogram, expressed in Kg.

      To illustrate this property, imagine having to push a shopping truck; we will have to push harder if this truck is full than if it is empty.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Burbano S., Burbano I. and Gràcia, C. (2004). General physics. Editorial Tebar.
      • Gettys, Keller, Skove. (1991). Classical and modern physics. McGraw-Hill Publishing.

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