Matter in our Surroundings

The whole universe is made of matters. Any substance that occupies space, and inherits mass is termed as matter. Our five senses could realize these substances. Electricity, heat, magnetism, vacuum, silhouette, and light and audio energy are not considered as matter, as these have no mass and do not occupy a space. According to Indian philosophy, five basic elements called Panchtatva; Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Sky constitute matters in our surroundings. These five basic elements composite to form a matter. The matter is particulate in characteristics. Minuscule particles, which are only observable under a powerful microscope, are the building blocks of a matter.

Distinctiveness of Matter

  • Particles of a very tiny size create a matter.

  • There is intermolecular space between these particles.

  • Particles continuously move, due to its intrinsic kinetic energy.

  • These particles are attracted to each other. The shared force of pull is dependent on the distance between the particles. In a solid-state of matter, strong intermolecular force prevails due to restricted space between the particles. In a liquid state, the intermolecular force is weak as, their ample space in between. In gases, the strength is feeble, as there are larger spaces between the particles.


Diffusion is the movement of a substance from a higher concentration area to a lower concentration area. Any material, solid, liquid, or gas can diffuse. The medium in which the diffusion occurs can be of three physical states. The speed of diffusion depends on the character of interaction between the material and the medium. Diffusion is fast in gas; lighter gases diffuse faster than denser gases. Gases diffuse very quickly in the air, slowly in liquid and slowest in solid.

Factors that Affect the Rate of Diffusion

  • Mass of the Particle

The rate of diffusion depends on the mass of the matter. Large particles move at a slower pace, resulting in a slower rate of diffusion. Lighter particles will diffuse at a faster rate. The movement of particles determines the speed of diffusion.

  • Temperature

Particles move due to inbuilt kinetic energy. With the rise in temperature, the kinetic energy gets boosted. As the movement of particles increase, the process of diffusion quickens.

States of matter

There are five states of matter found in-universe; solid, liquid, gas, plasma, Bose-Einstein condensate. 

Solid, liquid, and gas are most commonly found, states of matter.


The solid-state matter has definite shape and volume as the particles are closely bonded. Another characteristic of this state of matter is they have high, boiling, melting point, with high density. When an external force is applied to it, the particles only vibrate about their present position. As there is little intermolecular space, the kinetic energy is feeble to dissipate the particles. Due to high density, they cannot be compressed and unable to flow.


In this state of matter, the kinetic energy is more robust than that of solids, due to weak molecular force. The particles flow freely in this state of matter. Due to this feature, liquids have a definite volume but do not have a definite shape. When it is poured in a container, it will take the shape of it. Due to the lack of kinetic energy, they do not rupture the borderline of the liquid form. There is more room between the atoms so that they can be compressed and able to flow. This state of matter has low density and boiling and melting point.


Due to large intermolecular space and high kinetic energy, they have no fixed shape and volume. Their density is lower than a solid or liquid state. As the particles move very fast, the rate of diffusion is quick. As they diffuse, they exert force on the interior surface of the container. This force is termed as pressure. There are several units to calculate pressure. Some common units are atmosphere (atm), pounds per square inch (psi), Pascal (Pa) and, millimeters of mercury (mmHg). 1 atm = 14.7 psi = 760mm Hg = 101.3kPa (1,000 Pascal)


Plasma is the fourth state of matter, which is very similar to the gaseous state. Identical to gases, this state of matter has no definite shape and volume and has a lower density than solid or liquid. Plasma is the state of matter, which has been stripped out of the electrons, leaving +ve charged nuclei, known as Ions. Neutral molecules made gases, where there are an equal number of –ve charged electrons and +ve charged protons. Plasma is made of charged gas, where atoms gain or lose electrons to become positively or negatively charged. This process is called ionization. Sun and stars are made of plasma, and it is found in those celestial bodies due to high temperature.

This gas is used in neon blubs and fluorescent tubes. When current passes through this inert gas, it ionized it. As the plasma glows, it emits light.

Bose-Einstein Condensate

The concept of this form of matter was stated by Indian scientist Satyandra Nath Bose in 1920. This theory was established by Albert Einstein in 1924. This form of matter BEC (Bose-Einstein condensate) is formed by freezing gas of extremely low density.BEC is a cluster of atoms cooled near to zero temperature. Absolute zero temperature occurs at 0 Kelvin or -273.15 degrees Celsius, or -460 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not possible to achieve this temperature but likely to reach near to it by using laser cooling technology. At this temperature, the atoms stop moving, as they have no kinetic energy to do so. The atoms begin to bundle together and enter the same energy state. They become indistinguishable from a physical approach and start behaving like a single atom.

Atoms are infused with some kind of energy and fundamentals of the quantum mechanical state that energy cannot be random by nature. Due to this energy, electrons course in the elongated path, and converts to a photon of specific wavelength, when they change the orbit or energy level. When atoms come in contact within a billionth of a degree of absolute zero, some atoms begin to fall in the same energy level, becoming impossible to differentiate.

Two examples of materials containing Bose-Einstein condensate are superfluids and superconductors. Current flow through the superconductor, with virtual zero electrical resistance. Once the electricity starts, it flows indefinitely. A liquid in a superfluid flows forever.


Anything which posses both mass and volume is matter. You and me, chair and table, mountain and sea all are matter. The matter is made of particles that are very tiny, only seen under a microscope and continuously moving. For instance, a drop of water consists of by and large1021 molecules. If you add a few drops of Dettol in a bucket of water, the whole pool will odor like Dettol. This simple experiment proves particles are of miniature size. There is a space between the particles which vary according to the state of the matter. These particles attract each other, more closely knitted, more is the attraction. Matter in our surrounding notes exhibits the properties of matter in a nutshell.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. 1. What are Particles in a Matter?

A. 1. The particles in a matter may be atoms, molecules, or ions. The general term particle does not have to be specific.  

Q. 2. Diffusion- What are the Types?

A. 2. Diffusion is the process of movement of particles from a high concentration zone to a lower one. When a substance diffuses in water, the process is called osmosis. In living, organism diffusion occurs through a semi-porous membrane of a cell. This porous membrane acts as a filter, which allows certain things to pass through it. There are mainly two types; facilitated diffusion and passive diffusion. There are two typical types of osmosis. One is regular osmosis, and another one is chemiosmosis.

Q. 3. What is an Atom?

A. 3. Atoms are the building blocks of ordinary matter, which amount to a chemical element. Every state of matter, whether solid, liquid, gas or BEC, is made of atoms. The typical size of an atom is around 100 picometer. The atom itself is made of more tiny particles called subatomic particles those are; electrons, protons, and neutrons. Protons and neutrons constitute the center of the atom called the nucleus and electrons orbit around the nucleus.

Q. 4. What is a Molecule?

A. 4. Molecules are a bunch of atoms held together by a chemical bond. This bond is created by sharing or exchange of electrons among atoms. At least two atoms are needed to form a molecule. A molecule can be homonuclear or heteronuclear. In homonuclear atoms, only one chemical element is present, for example, oxygen (O2); in heteronuclear atoms of more than one element is present, for example, water (H2O).

Q. 5. What is Antimatter?

A. 5. Antimatter is just the reverse of the matter we found in the environment. The subatomic particles of antimatter possess different properties of an ordinary matter. The eclectic charge of sub-particles of the atom is opposite, in antimatter. The electrons which are +ve charged are called positrons, and Antiprotons are –ve charge. The particles in antimatter are called Antiparticles. A mega high-velocity collision creates these antiparticles. Large Hadron collider control by CERN (the European Organization of Nuclear Research) was able to produce a small number of antiparticles. When antimatter reacts with the matter, they destroy each other and generate an enormous amount of energy (gamma radiation).