Properties of Matter : Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Qs)

26. What is a property of matter ?
Some quality that pertains to matter.

27. What is a universal property of matter ?

A quality that pertains to all matter, a quality without
which matter, as we know it, could not exist.

28. What is a characteristic or accessory property of matter?

A quality that pertains to some kind or kinds of matter
and not to others, and that thus enables us to distinguish
one substance from another.

29. Name some of the universal properties of matter.
Extension, impenetrability, indestructibility, weight and

30. Name some of the characteristic properties of matter.
Hardness, as of the diamond ; tenacity, as of steel ; brit-
tleness, as of glass; malleability, as of gold; ductility,
as of platinum.

31. What is extension ?

The property of matter by which matter takes up room,
i. e.y occupies space.

32. To what does it refer?

To length, breadth and thickness, a combination that is
essential to the existence of matter.

33. What is impenetrability ?

The property of matter by which one body excludes
another from the space in which it is. No two bodies
can be in the same place at the same time.

34. What is indestructibility?

The property of matter by which it defies annihilation.
God created matter; He alone can destroy a single
atom of it.

35. What caution should be observed in this connection ?

We should remember that there is a difference between
disappearance and destruction.

36. How can you illustrate this difference ?

Water " boils away," but we all know that thoufrh it thus
disappears, it does not cease to be. So a candle burns
away and disappears. The candle is destroyed, but not
an atom of the matter of which the candle was com-
posed is destroyed. The hydrogen, which was part of
the candle, burns [i, ^., unites with oxygen), and thus
forms watery vapor that will condense to the liquid
form, and perhaps help quench the thirst of a sheep
that may jrield tallow for another candle. The carbon
of the candle bums to carbon di-oxide (carbonic acid
gas), that may feed the plant on which feeds the
sheep that may yield more tallow for still another can-
dle. Matter goes through almost endless transforma-
tions, and appears in protean shapes.

37. What says Shelley' s poem on " The Cloud? "

' ' I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores ;
I change, but I cannot die."

38. What is weight ?

It is the downward pressure of a body on or near the
earth's surface, due to the attraction between that body
and the earth.

39. What does it measure ?

It measures the force of gravity upon the body weighed.

40. How is the term generally used ?

As above defined, referring especially to terrestrial ob-
jects. As a matter of fact, all matter has weight be-
cause the attraction of gravitation is of universal ap-

41. What is inertia ?

The property of matter whereby a body cannot change
its condition of rest or motion. It is a purely negative
property ; a quality of inability, and nothing more.

42. State a common erroneous notion concerning inertia.

It is sometimes (unconsciously) held that rest is the natu-
ral condition of matter, and that inertia means espe-
cially the tendency of matter to remain in such condi-
tion ; that t© overcome the inertia of a body means to
put it in motion.

43. What is the fact in the case ?

Matter has no " natural condition '* either of rest or of
motion. So far as we know, matter is nowhere at rest,
everywhere in motion. But this motion is due not to
any inherent tendency, but to the fact that the motion
was communicated to it by some agency outside itself.

44. State some of the consequences of inertia.

On account of inertia, a body at rest cannot put itself in
motion ; on account of inertia, a moving body cannot
bring itself to rest or even change its rate of motion
(velocity). Stopping a moving body is overcoming its
inertia as truly as in giving motion to a body at rest.

45. What is meant by the term, " body ? "

A body is some definite, separate, portion of matter. The
term refers only to matter, ** dead matter," or matter
considered independently of the living, willing, or
motive power of vegetable or animal existence. These
are forces, mysterious forces, distinct from the material
organism and acting upon it. With such vital forces,
physics (at least, elementary physics) has nothing to do.

46. What is hardness ?

The property of some kinds of matter whereby they are
able to resist being marked by scratching. The dia-
mond is harder than glass, and will, therefore, scratch
glass. Glass is harder than gold, and will, therefore,
scratch gold.

47. What is tenacity ?

The property of some kinds of matter whereby they are
able to resist being pulled asunder. Because an iron
bar will resist a greater pulling force than a similar
lead bar, we say that the former has the greater tenacity.

48. What is brittleness ?

The property of some kinds of matter whereby they are
easily broken by a blow.

49. What is malleability ?

The property of some kinds of matter whereby they may
be rolled or hammered into sheets.

50. What is ductility?

The property of some kinds of matter whereby they may
be drawn into wire.

51. In how many conditions does matter exist?

Three or more. The three universally recognized condi-
tions are the solid, liquid and aeriform (or gaseous).

52. What is a solid ?

A body that has a strong tendency to retain its given
form, like ice. It has little freedom of molecular motion.

53. What is a liquid?

A body, the molecules of which move easily among them-
selves, and yet tend to cling together. Water is the
most familiar illustration of a liquid.

54. What is an aeriform body ?

One in which the molecules move easily among them-
selves and tend to separate from each other, like steam.

55. How are aeriform bodies classified ?
As gases and vapors.

56. How do these differ ?

Gases retain their aeriform condition at ordinary temper-
atures and pressures, like oxygen or illuminating gas.
Vapors take the liquid or solid form at ordinary tem-
peratures and pressures, like steam.

57. What is a fluid ?

A body characterized by great freedom of molecular motion.

58. What does the term include ?
Liquids, gases, and vapors.

59. Is there any other form of matter ?

Mr. Crooke's experiments seem to show that there is a
form still more tenuous than the aeriform, for which he
has proposed the name "Radiant." The Inminiferous
ether, which pervades all space, is a form of matter
more nearly imponderable than the gaseous.

60. What would you call a fluid that is scarcely compressible?
A liquid.

61. What would you call a fluid that is easily compressible f
A gas or a vapor.

62. What would you call a body that has a definite form, of its
A solid.

63. What would you call a body that can not, of itself maintain
a definite form f?
A fluid.

64. Why may larger' bubbles be blown zvith soap-suds than with

pure water?
Because of the greater surface viscosity of the soap solu-
tion. The 8U{)eriicial film of a liquid is highly viscous
as compared with the interior; 1. ^., it is comparatively
difficult to move or to break it.

65. Slate another fa£l concerning the superficial films of liquids,
A liquid surface is in a state of tension like that of a
stretched membrane.

66. What is capillary attraction ?

The tendency of water and other liquids to rise above theii
levels in fine tubes dipped into liquids that wet them.

67. What happens if the liquid does not wet the tube ?

The liquid, instead of being raised, will be depressed be-
low its level.

68. How can you illustrate your meaning ?

• By plunging a clean glass tube into mercurv, or a greased
tube into water, the liquid in the tube will be depressed
below its level outside the tube.

69. Give a familiar illustration of capillary attraction.
The ascent of oil in a lamp wick.


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