• Question: What is matter?

    Asked by jackietang to Amy, Drew on 24 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 24 Jun 2011:

      Matter is the stuff around you
      It is anything made of atoms and molecules, anything that has a mass. Matter is also related to light and electromagnetic radiation. Even though matter can be found all over the universe, you usually find it in just a few forms (i.e. “states of matter”). As of 1995, scientists have identified five states of matter I am told.

      These are solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, and a new one called Bose-Einstein condensates. The scientists who worked with the Bose-Einstein condensate received a Nobel Prize for their work in 1995.

    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 24 Jun 2011:

      Jackie – that’s actually a really deep question. Only some types of particles have mass, and they don’t necessarily generate that mass themselves (that’s what the Higgs-Boson stuff is all about). Most of what we experience as matter is actually forces acting on particles or by particles, not the particles themselves.

      You don’t touch the desk, but the energy fields of your particles and the desk’s particles interact preventing you from pushing your hand through the desk.