In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume.[1] All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles (or combination of particles) that act as if they have both rest mass and volume. However it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound.[1][2] Matter exists in various states (also known as phases). These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid, and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark–gluon plasma.[3]

Usually atoms can be imagined as a nucleus of protons and neutrons, and a surrounding "cloud" of orbiting electrons which "take up space".[4][5] However this is only somewhat correct, because subatomic particles and their properties are governed by their quantum nature, which means they do not act as everyday objects appear to act – they can act like waves as well as particles and they do not have well-defined sizes or positions. In the Standard Model of particle physics, matter is not a fundamental concept because the elementary constituents of atoms are quantum entities which do not have an inherent "size" or "volume" in any everyday sense of the word. Due to the exclusion principle and other fundamental interactions, some "point particles" known as fermions (quarks, leptons), and many composites and atoms, are effectively forced to keep a distance from other particles under everyday conditions; this creates the property of matter which appears to us as matter taking up space.

For much of the history of the natural sciences people have contemplated the exact nature of matter. The idea that matter was built of discrete building blocks, the so-called particulate theory of matter, was first put forward by the Greek philosophers Leucippus (~490 BC) and Democritus (~470–380 BC).[6]

Quartz oisan

Drop closeup


Plasma-lamp 2
Matter is usually classified into three classical states, with plasma sometimes added as a fourth state. From top to bottom: quartz (solid), water (liquid), nitrogen dioxide (gas), and a plasma globe (plasma).

Comparison with mass

Matter should not be confused with mass, as the two are not the same in modern physics.[7] Matter is a general term describing any 'physical substance'. By contrast, mass is not a substance but rather a quantitative property of matter and other substances or systems; various types of mass are defined within physics – including but not limited to rest mass, inertial mass, relativistic mass, mass–energy.

While there are different views on what should be considered matter, the mass of a substance has exact scientific definitions. Another difference is that matter has an "opposite" called antimatter, but mass has no opposite—there is no such thing as "anti-mass" or negative mass, so far as is known, although scientists do discuss the concept. Antimatter has the same (i.e. positive) mass property as its normal matter counterpart.

Different fields of science use the term matter in different, and sometimes incompatible, ways. Some of these ways are based on loose historical meanings, from a time when there was no reason to distinguish mass from simply a quantity of matter. As such, there is no single universally agreed scientific meaning of the word "matter". Scientifically, the term "mass" is well-defined, but "matter" can be defined in several ways. Sometimes in the field of physics "matter" is simply equated with particles that exhibit rest mass (i.e., that cannot travel at the speed of light), such as quarks and leptons. However, in both physics and chemistry, matter exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties, the so-called wave–particle duality.[8][9][10]


Based on atoms

A definition of "matter" based on its physical and chemical structure is: matter is made up of atoms.[11] Such atomic matter is also sometimes termed ordinary matter. As an example, deoxyribonucleic acid molecules (DNA) are matter under this definition because they are made of atoms. This definition can be extended to include charged atoms and molecules, so as to include plasmas (gases of ions) and electrolytes (ionic solutions), which are not obviously included in the atoms definition. Alternatively, one can adopt the protons, neutrons, and electrons definition.

Based on protons, neutrons and electrons

A definition of "matter" more fine-scale than the atoms and molecules definition is: matter is made up of what atoms and molecules are made of, meaning anything made of positively charged protons, neutral neutrons, and negatively charged electrons.[12] This definition goes beyond atoms and molecules, however, to include substances made from these building blocks that are not simply atoms or molecules, for example electron beams in an old cathode ray tube television, or white dwarf matter—typically, carbon and oxygen nuclei in a sea of degenerate electrons. At a microscopic level, the constituent "particles" of matter such as protons, neutrons, and electrons obey the laws of quantum mechanics and exhibit wave–particle duality. At an even deeper level, protons and neutrons are made up of quarks and the force fields (gluons) that bind them together, leading to the next definition.

Based on quarks and leptons

Standard Model of Elementary Particles
Under the "quarks and leptons" definition, the elementary and composite particles made of the quarks (in purple) and leptons (in green) would be matter—while the gauge bosons (in red) would not be matter. However, interaction energy inherent to composite particles (for example, gluons involved in neutrons and protons) contribute to the mass of ordinary matter.

As seen in the above discussion, many early definitions of what can be called "ordinary matter" were based upon its structure or "building blocks". On the scale of elementary particles, a definition that follows this tradition can be stated as: "ordinary matter is everything that is composed of quarks and leptons", or "ordinary matter is everything that is composed of any elementary fermions except antiquarks and antileptons".[13][14][15] The connection between these formulations follows.

Leptons (the most famous being the electron), and quarks (of which baryons, such as protons and neutrons, are made) combine to form atoms, which in turn form molecules. Because atoms and molecules are said to be matter, it is natural to phrase the definition as: "ordinary matter is anything that is made of the same things that atoms and molecules are made of". (However, notice that one also can make from these building blocks matter that is not atoms or molecules.) Then, because electrons are leptons, and protons, and neutrons are made of quarks, this definition in turn leads to the definition of matter as being "quarks and leptons", which are two of the four types of elementary fermions (the other two being antiquarks and antileptons, which can be considered antimatter as described later). Carithers and Grannis state: "Ordinary matter is composed entirely of first-generation particles, namely the [up] and [down] quarks, plus the electron and its neutrino."[14] (Higher generations particles quickly decay into first-generation particles, and thus are not commonly encountered.[16])

This definition of ordinary matter is more subtle than it first appears. All the particles that make up ordinary matter (leptons and quarks) are elementary fermions, while all the force carriers are elementary bosons.[17] The W and Z bosons that mediate the weak force are not made of quarks or leptons, and so are not ordinary matter, even if they have mass.[18] In other words, mass is not something that is exclusive to ordinary matter.

The quark–lepton definition of ordinary matter, however, identifies not only the elementary building blocks of matter, but also includes composites made from the constituents (atoms and molecules, for example). Such composites contain an interaction energy that holds the constituents together, and may constitute the bulk of the mass of the composite. As an example, to a great extent, the mass of an atom is simply the sum of the masses of its constituent protons, neutrons and electrons. However, digging deeper, the protons and neutrons are made up of quarks bound together by gluon fields (see dynamics of quantum chromodynamics) and these gluons fields contribute significantly to the mass of hadrons.[19] In other words, most of what composes the "mass" of ordinary matter is due to the binding energy of quarks within protons and neutrons.[20] For example, the sum of the mass of the three quarks in a nucleon is approximately 12.5 MeV/c2, which is low compared to the mass of a nucleon (approximately 938 MeV/c2).[21][22] The bottom line is that most of the mass of everyday objects comes from the interaction energy of its elementary components.

The Standard Model groups matter particles into three generations, where each generation consists of two quarks and two leptons. The first generation is the up and down quarks, the electron and the electron neutrino; the second includes the charm and strange quarks, the muon and the muon neutrino; the third generation consists of the top and bottom quarks and the tau and tau neutrino.[23] The most natural explanation for this would be that quarks and leptons of higher generations are excited states of the first generations. If this turns out to be the case, it would imply that quarks and leptons are composite particles, rather than elementary particles.[24]

This quark–lepton definition of matter also leads to what can be described as "conservation of (net) matter" laws—discussed later below. Alternatively, one could return to the mass–volume–space concept of matter, leading to the next definition, in which antimatter becomes included as a subclass of matter.

Based on elementary fermions (mass, volume, and space)

A common or traditional definition of matter is "anything that has mass and volume (occupies space)".[25][26] For example, a car would be said to be made of matter, as it has mass and volume (occupies space).

The observation that matter occupies space goes back to antiquity. However, an explanation for why matter occupies space is recent, and is argued to be a result of the phenomenon described in the Pauli exclusion principle,[27][28] which applies to fermions. Two particular examples where the exclusion principle clearly relates matter to the occupation of space are white dwarf stars and neutron stars, discussed further below.

Thus, matter can be defined as everything composed of elementary fermions. Although we don't encounter them in everyday life, antiquarks (such as the antiproton) and antileptons (such as the positron) are the antiparticles of the quark and the lepton, are elementary fermions as well, and have essentially the same properties as quarks and leptons, including the applicability of the Pauli exclusion principle which can be said to prevent two particles from being in the same place at the same time (in the same state), i.e. makes each particle "take up space". This particular definition leads to matter being defined to include anything made of these antimatter particles as well as the ordinary quark and lepton, and thus also anything made of mesons, which are unstable particles made up of a quark and an antiquark.

In general relativity and cosmology

In the context of relativity, mass is not an additive quantity, in the sense that one can not add the rest masses of particles in a system to get the total rest mass of the system.[1] Thus, in relativity usually a more general view is that it is not the sum of rest masses, but the energy–momentum tensor that quantifies the amount of matter. This tensor gives the rest mass for the entire system. "Matter" therefore is sometimes considered as anything that contributes to the energy–momentum of a system, that is, anything that is not purely gravity.[29][30] This view is commonly held in fields that deal with general relativity such as cosmology. In this view, light and other massless particles and fields are all part of "matter".


In particle physics, fermions are particles that obey Fermi–Dirac statistics. Fermions can be elementary, like the electron—or composite, like the proton and neutron. In the Standard Model, there are two types of elementary fermions: quarks and leptons, which are discussed next.


Quarks are particles of spin-​12, implying that they are fermions. They carry an electric charge of −​13 e (down-type quarks) or +​23 e (up-type quarks). For comparison, an electron has a charge of −1 e. They also carry colour charge, which is the equivalent of the electric charge for the strong interaction. Quarks also undergo radioactive decay, meaning that they are subject to the weak interaction. Quarks are massive particles, and therefore are also subject to gravity.

Quark properties[31]
name symbol spin electric charge
mass comparable to antiparticle antiparticle
up-type quarks
12 +​23 1.5 to 3.3 ~ 5 electrons antiup
12 +​23 1160 to 1340 ~1 proton anticharm
12 +​23 169,100 to 173,300 ~180 protons or
~1 tungsten atom
down-type quarks
12 −​13 3.5 to 6.0 ~10 electrons antidown
12 −​13 70 to 130 ~ 200 electrons antistrange
12 −​13 4130 to 4370 ~ 5 protons antibottom
Proton quark structure
Quark structure of a proton: 2 up quarks and 1 down quark.

Baryonic matter

Baryons are strongly interacting fermions, and so are subject to Fermi–Dirac statistics. Amongst the baryons are the protons and neutrons, which occur in atomic nuclei, but many other unstable baryons exist as well. The term baryon usually refers to triquarks—particles made of three quarks. Also, "exotic" baryons made of four quarks and one antiquark are known as pentaquarks, but their existence is not generally accepted.

Baryonic matter is the part of the universe that is made of baryons (including all atoms). This part of the universe does not include dark energy, dark matter, black holes or various forms of degenerate matter, such as compose white dwarf stars and neutron stars. Microwave light seen by Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), suggests that only about 4.6% of that part of the universe within range of the best telescopes (that is, matter that may be visible because light could reach us from it), is made of baryonic matter. About 26.8% is dark matter, and about 68.3% is dark energy.[32]

As a matter of fact, the great majority of ordinary matter in the universe is unseen, since visible stars and gas inside galaxies and clusters account for less than 10 per cent of the ordinary matter contribution to the mass–energy density of the universe.[33]

Size IK Peg
A comparison between the white dwarf IK Pegasi B (center), its A-class companion IK Pegasi A (left) and the Sun (right). This white dwarf has a surface temperature of 35,500 K.

Hadronic matter

Hadronic matter can refer to 'ordinary' baryonic matter, made from hadrons (Baryons and mesons), or quark matter (a generalisation of atomic nuclei), ie. the 'low' temperature QCD matter.[34] It includes degenerate matter and the result of high energy heavy nuclei collisions.[35] Distinct from dark matter.

Degenerate matter

In physics, degenerate matter refers to the ground state of a gas of fermions at a temperature near absolute zero.[36] The Pauli exclusion principle requires that only two fermions can occupy a quantum state, one spin-up and the other spin-down. Hence, at zero temperature, the fermions fill up sufficient levels to accommodate all the available fermions—and in the case of many fermions, the maximum kinetic energy (called the Fermi energy) and the pressure of the gas becomes very large, and depends on the number of fermions rather than the temperature, unlike normal states of matter.

Degenerate matter is thought to occur during the evolution of heavy stars.[37] The demonstration by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar that white dwarf stars have a maximum allowed mass because of the exclusion principle caused a revolution in the theory of star evolution.[38]

Degenerate matter includes the part of the universe that is made up of neutron stars and white dwarfs.

Strange matter

Strange matter is a particular form of quark matter, usually thought of as a liquid of up, down, and strange quarks. It is contrasted with nuclear matter, which is a liquid of neutrons and protons (which themselves are built out of up and down quarks), and with non-strange quark matter, which is a quark liquid that contains only up and down quarks. At high enough density, strange matter is expected to be color superconducting. Strange matter is hypothesized to occur in the core of neutron stars, or, more speculatively, as isolated droplets that may vary in size from femtometers (strangelets) to kilometers (quark stars).

In particle physics and astrophysics, the term is used in two ways, one broader and the other more specific.

  1. The broader meaning is just quark matter that contains three flavors of quarks: up, down, and strange. In this definition, there is a critical pressure and an associated critical density, and when nuclear matter (made of protons and neutrons) is compressed beyond this density, the protons and neutrons dissociate into quarks, yielding quark matter (probably strange matter).
  2. The narrower meaning is quark matter that is more stable than nuclear matter. The idea that this could happen is the "strange matter hypothesis" of Bodmer[39] and Witten.[40] In this definition, the critical pressure is zero: the true ground state of matter is always quark matter. The nuclei that we see in the matter around us, which are droplets of nuclear matter, are actually metastable, and given enough time (or the right external stimulus) would decay into droplets of strange matter, i.e. strangelets.


Leptons are particles of spin-​12, meaning that they are fermions. They carry an electric charge of −1 e (charged leptons) or 0 e (neutrinos). Unlike quarks, leptons do not carry colour charge, meaning that they do not experience the strong interaction. Leptons also undergo radioactive decay, meaning that they are subject to the weak interaction. Leptons are massive particles, therefore are subject to gravity.

Lepton properties
name symbol spin electric charge
mass comparable to antiparticle antiparticle
charged leptons[41]
12 −1 0.5110 1 electron antielectron
12 −1 105.7 ~ 200 electrons antimuon
12 −1 1,777 ~ 2 protons antitau
electron neutrino
12 0 < 0.000460 < ​11000 electron electron antineutrino
muon neutrino
12 0 < 0.19 < ​12 electron muon antineutrino
tau neutrino
12 0 < 18.2 < 40 electrons tau antineutrino


Phase diagram for pure substance
Phase diagram for a typical substance at a fixed volume. Vertical axis is Pressure, horizontal axis is Temperature. The green line marks the freezing point (above the green line is solid, below it is liquid) and the blue line the boiling point (above it is liquid and below it is gas). So, for example, at higher T, a higher P is necessary to maintain the substance in liquid phase. At the triple point the three phases; liquid, gas and solid; can coexist. Above the critical point there is no detectable difference between the phases. The dotted line shows the anomalous behavior of water: ice melts at constant temperature with increasing pressure.[43]

In bulk, matter can exist in several different forms, or states of aggregation, known as phases,[44] depending on ambient pressure, temperature and volume.[45] A phase is a form of matter that has a relatively uniform chemical composition and physical properties (such as density, specific heat, refractive index, and so forth). These phases include the three familiar ones (solids, liquids, and gases), as well as more exotic states of matter (such as plasmas, superfluids, supersolids, Bose–Einstein condensates, ...). A fluid may be a liquid, gas or plasma. There are also paramagnetic and ferromagnetic phases of magnetic materials. As conditions change, matter may change from one phase into another. These phenomena are called phase transitions, and are studied in the field of thermodynamics. In nanomaterials, the vastly increased ratio of surface area to volume results in matter that can exhibit properties entirely different from those of bulk material, and not well described by any bulk phase (see nanomaterials for more details).

Phases are sometimes called states of matter, but this term can lead to confusion with thermodynamic states. For example, two gases maintained at different pressures are in different thermodynamic states (different pressures), but in the same phase (both are gases).


Question, Web Fundamentals.svg Unsolved problem in physics:
Baryon asymmetry. Why is there far more matter than antimatter in the observable universe?
(more unsolved problems in physics)

In particle physics and quantum chemistry, antimatter is matter that is composed of the antiparticles of those that constitute ordinary matter. If a particle and its antiparticle come into contact with each other, the two annihilate; that is, they may both be converted into other particles with equal energy in accordance with Einstein's equation E = mc2. These new particles may be high-energy photons (gamma rays) or other particle–antiparticle pairs. The resulting particles are endowed with an amount of kinetic energy equal to the difference between the rest mass of the products of the annihilation and the rest mass of the original particle–antiparticle pair, which is often quite large. Depending on which definition of "matter" is adopted, antimatter can be said to be a particular subclass of matter, or the opposite of matter.

Antimatter is not found naturally on Earth, except very briefly and in vanishingly small quantities (as the result of radioactive decay, lightning or cosmic rays). This is because antimatter that came to exist on Earth outside the confines of a suitable physics laboratory would almost instantly meet the ordinary matter that Earth is made of, and be annihilated. Antiparticles and some stable antimatter (such as antihydrogen) can be made in tiny amounts, but not in enough quantity to do more than test a few of its theoretical properties.

There is considerable speculation both in science and science fiction as to why the observable universe is apparently almost entirely matter (in the sense of quarks and leptons but not antiquarks or antileptons), and whether other places are almost entirely antimatter (antiquarks and antileptons) instead. In the early universe, it is thought that matter and antimatter were equally represented, and the disappearance of antimatter requires an asymmetry in physical laws called CP (charge-parity) symmetry violation, which can be obtained from the Standard Model,[46] but at this time the apparent asymmetry of matter and antimatter in the visible universe is one of the great unsolved problems in physics. Possible processes by which it came about are explored in more detail under baryogenesis.

Formally, antimatter particles can be defined by their negative baryon number or lepton number, while "normal" (non-antimatter) matter particles have positive baryon or lepton number.[47] These two classes of particles are the antiparticle partners of one another.

In October 2017, scientists reported further evidence that matter and antimatter, equally produced at the Big Bang, are identical, should completely annihilate each other and, as a result, the universe should not exist.[48][49] This implies that there must be something, as yet unknown to scientists, that either stopped the complete mutual destruction of matter and antimatter in the early forming universe, or that gave rise to an imbalance between the two forms.

Conservation of matter

Two quantities that can define an amount of matter in the quark–lepton sense (and antimatter in an antiquark–antilepton sense), baryon number and lepton number, are conserved in the Standard Model. A baryon such as the proton or neutron has a baryon number of one, and a quark, because there are three in a baryon, is given a baryon number of 1/3. So the net amount of matter, as measured by the number of quarks (minus the number of antiquarks, which each have a baryon number of −1/3), which is proportional to baryon number, and number of leptons (minus antileptons), which is called the lepton number, is practically impossible to change in any process. Even in a nuclear bomb, none of the baryons (protons and neutrons of which the atomic nuclei are composed) are destroyed—there are as many baryons after as before the reaction, so none of these matter particles are actually destroyed and none are even converted to non-matter particles (like photons of light or radiation). Instead, nuclear (and perhaps chromodynamic) binding energy is released, as these baryons become bound into mid-size nuclei having less energy (and, equivalently, less mass) per nucleon compared to the original small (hydrogen) and large (plutonium etc.) nuclei. Even in electron–positron annihilation, there is no net matter being destroyed, because there was zero net matter (zero total lepton number and baryon number) to begin with before the annihilation—one lepton minus one antilepton equals zero net lepton number—and this net amount matter does not change as it simply remains zero after the annihilation.[50] So the only way to really "destroy" or "convert" ordinary matter is to pair it with the same amount of antimatter so that their "matterness" cancels out—but in practice there is almost no antimatter generally available in the universe (see baryon asymmetry and leptogenesis) with which to do so.

Other types

Matter Distribution
Pie chart showing the fractions of energy in the universe contributed by different sources. Ordinary matter is divided into luminous matter (the stars and luminous gases and 0.005% radiation) and nonluminous matter (intergalactic gas and about 0.1% neutrinos and 0.04% supermassive black holes). Ordinary matter is uncommon. Modeled after Ostriker and Steinhardt.[51] For more information, see NASA.

Ordinary matter, in the quarks and leptons definition, constitutes about 4% of the energy of the observable universe. The remaining energy is theorized to be due to exotic forms, of which 23% is dark matter[52][53] and 73% is dark energy.[54][55]

Rotation curve (Milky Way)
Galaxy rotation curve for the Milky Way. Vertical axis is speed of rotation about the galactic center. Horizontal axis is distance from the galactic center. The sun is marked with a yellow ball. The observed curve of speed of rotation is blue. The predicted curve based upon stellar mass and gas in the Milky Way is red. The difference is due to dark matter or perhaps a modification of the law of gravity.[56][57][58] Scatter in observations is indicated roughly by gray bars.

Dark matter

In astrophysics and cosmology, dark matter is matter of unknown composition that does not emit or reflect enough electromagnetic radiation to be observed directly, but whose presence can be inferred from gravitational effects on visible matter.[59][60] Observational evidence of the early universe and the Big Bang theory require that this matter have energy and mass, but is not composed ordinary baryons (protons and neutrons). The commonly accepted view is that most of the dark matter is non-baryonic in nature.[59] As such, it is composed of particles as yet unobserved in the laboratory. Perhaps they are supersymmetric particles,[61] which are not Standard Model particles, but relics formed at very high energies in the early phase of the universe and still floating about.[59]

Dark energy

In cosmology, dark energy is the name given to source of the repelling influence that is accelerating the rate of expansion of the universe. Its precise nature is currently a mystery, although its effects can reasonably be modeled by assigning matter-like properties such as energy density and pressure to the vacuum itself.[62][63]

Fully 70% of the matter density in the universe appears to be in the form of dark energy. Twenty-six percent is dark matter. Only 4% is ordinary matter. So less than 1 part in 20 is made out of matter we have observed experimentally or described in the standard model of particle physics. Of the other 96%, apart from the properties just mentioned, we know absolutely nothing.

— Lee Smolin: The Trouble with Physics, p. 16

Exotic matter

Exotic matter is a concept of particle physics, which may include dark matter and dark energy but goes further to include any hypothetical material that violates one or more of the properties of known forms of matter. Some such materials might possess hypothetical properties like negative mass.

Historical development

Antiquity (c. 610 BC–c. 322 BC)

The pre-Socratics were among the first recorded speculators about the underlying nature of the visible world. Thales (c. 624 BC–c. 546 BC) regarded water as the fundamental material of the world. Anaximander (c. 610 BC–c. 546 BC) posited that the basic material was wholly characterless or limitless: the Infinite (apeiron). Anaximenes (flourished 585 BC, d. 528 BC) posited that the basic stuff was pneuma or air. Heraclitus (c. 535–c. 475 BC) seems to say the basic element is fire, though perhaps he means that all is change. Empedocles (c. 490–430 BC) spoke of four elements of which everything was made: earth, water, air, and fire.[64] Meanwhile, Parmenides argued that change does not exist, and Democritus argued that everything is composed of minuscule, inert bodies of all shapes called atoms, a philosophy called atomism. All of these notions had deep philosophical problems.[65]

Aristotle (384–322 BC) was the first to put the conception on a sound philosophical basis, which he did in his natural philosophy, especially in Physics book I.[66] He adopted as reasonable suppositions the four Empedoclean elements, but added a fifth, aether. Nevertheless, these elements are not basic in Aristotle's mind. Rather they, like everything else in the visible world, are composed of the basic principles matter and form.

For my definition of matter is just this—the primary substratum of each thing, from which it comes to be without qualification, and which persists in the result.

— Aristotle, Physics I:9:192a32

The word Aristotle uses for matter, ὕλη (hyle or hule), can be literally translated as wood or timber, that is, "raw material" for building.[67] Indeed, Aristotle's conception of matter is intrinsically linked to something being made or composed. In other words, in contrast to the early modern conception of matter as simply occupying space, matter for Aristotle is definitionally linked to process or change: matter is what underlies a change of substance. For example, a horse eats grass: the horse changes the grass into itself; the grass as such does not persist in the horse, but some aspect of it—its matter—does. The matter is not specifically described (e.g., as atoms), but consists of whatever persists in the change of substance from grass to horse. Matter in this understanding does not exist independently (i.e., as a substance), but exists interdependently (i.e., as a "principle") with form and only insofar as it underlies change. It can be helpful to conceive of the relationship of matter and form as very similar to that between parts and whole. For Aristotle, matter as such can only receive actuality from form; it has no activity or actuality in itself, similar to the way that parts as such only have their existence in a whole (otherwise they would be independent wholes).

Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

René Descartes (1596–1650) originated the modern conception of matter. He was primarily a geometer. Instead of, like Aristotle, deducing the existence of matter from the physical reality of change, Descartes arbitrarily postulated matter to be an abstract, mathematical substance that occupies space:

So, extension in length, breadth, and depth, constitutes the nature of bodily substance; and thought constitutes the nature of thinking substance. And everything else attributable to body presupposes extension, and is only a mode of extended

— René Descartes, Principles of Philosophy[68]

For Descartes, matter has only the property of extension, so its only activity aside from locomotion is to exclude other bodies:[69] this is the mechanical philosophy. Descartes makes an absolute distinction between mind, which he defines as unextended, thinking substance, and matter, which he defines as unthinking, extended substance.[70] They are independent things. In contrast, Aristotle defines matter and the formal/forming principle as complementary principles that together compose one independent thing (substance). In short, Aristotle defines matter (roughly speaking) as what things are actually made of (with a potential independent existence), but Descartes elevates matter to an actual independent thing in itself.

The continuity and difference between Descartes' and Aristotle's conceptions is noteworthy. In both conceptions, matter is passive or inert. In the respective conceptions matter has different relationships to intelligence. For Aristotle, matter and intelligence (form) exist together in an interdependent relationship, whereas for Descartes, matter and intelligence (mind) are definitionally opposed, independent substances.[71]

Descartes' justification for restricting the inherent qualities of matter to extension is its permanence, but his real criterion is not permanence (which equally applied to color and resistance), but his desire to use geometry to explain all material properties.[72] Like Descartes, Hobbes, Boyle, and Locke argued that the inherent properties of bodies were limited to extension, and that so-called secondary qualities, like color, were only products of human perception.[73]

Isaac Newton (1643–1727) inherited Descartes' mechanical conception of matter. In the third of his "Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy", Newton lists the universal qualities of matter as "extension, hardness, impenetrability, mobility, and inertia".[74] Similarly in Optics he conjectures that God created matter as "solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles", which were "...even so very hard as never to wear or break in pieces".[75] The "primary" properties of matter were amenable to mathematical description, unlike "secondary" qualities such as color or taste. Like Descartes, Newton rejected the essential nature of secondary qualities.[76]

Newton developed Descartes' notion of matter by restoring to matter intrinsic properties in addition to extension (at least on a limited basis), such as mass. Newton's use of gravitational force, which worked "at a distance", effectively repudiated Descartes' mechanics, in which interactions happened exclusively by contact.[77]

Though Newton's gravity would seem to be a power of bodies, Newton himself did not admit it to be an essential property of matter. Carrying the logic forward more consistently, Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) argued that corporeal properties transcend contact mechanics: chemical properties require the capacity for attraction.[77] He argued matter has other inherent powers besides the so-called primary qualities of Descartes, et al.[78]

Nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Since Priestley's time, there has been a massive expansion in knowledge of the constituents of the material world (viz., molecules, atoms, subatomic particles), but there has been no further development in the definition of matter. Rather the question has been set aside. Noam Chomsky (born 1928) summarizes the situation that has prevailed since that time:

What is the concept of body that finally emerged?[...] The answer is that there is no clear and definite conception of body.[...] Rather, the material world is whatever we discover it to be, with whatever properties it must be assumed to have for the purposes of explanatory theory. Any intelligible theory that offers genuine explanations and that can be assimilated to the core notions of physics becomes part of the theory of the material world, part of our account of body. If we have such a theory in some domain, we seek to assimilate it to the core notions of physics, perhaps modifying these notions as we carry out this enterprise.

— Noam Chomsky, Language and problems of knowledge: the Managua lectures, p. 144[77]

So matter is whatever physics studies and the object of study of physics is matter: there is no independent general definition of matter, apart from its fitting into the methodology of measurement and controlled experimentation. In sum, the boundaries between what constitutes matter and everything else remains as vague as the demarcation problem of delimiting science from everything else.[79]

In the 19th century, following the development of the periodic table, and of atomic theory, atoms were seen as being the fundamental constituents of matter; atoms formed molecules and compounds.[80]

The common definition in terms of occupying space and having mass is in contrast with most physical and chemical definitions of matter, which rely instead upon its structure and upon attributes not necessarily related to volume and mass. At the turn of the nineteenth century, the knowledge of matter began a rapid evolution.

Aspects of the Newtonian view still held sway. James Clerk Maxwell discussed matter in his work Matter and Motion.[81] He carefully separates "matter" from space and time, and defines it in terms of the object referred to in Newton's first law of motion.

However, the Newtonian picture was not the whole story. In the 19th century, the term "matter" was actively discussed by a host of scientists and philosophers, and a brief outline can be found in Levere.[82] A textbook discussion from 1870 suggests matter is what is made up of atoms:[83]

Three divisions of matter are recognized in science: masses, molecules and atoms.
A Mass of matter is any portion of matter appreciable by the senses.
A Molecule is the smallest particle of matter into which a body can be divided without losing its identity.
An Atom is a still smaller particle produced by division of a molecule.

Rather than simply having the attributes of mass and occupying space, matter was held to have chemical and electrical properties. In 1909 the famous physicist J. J. Thomson (1856–1940) wrote about the "constitution of matter" and was concerned with the possible connection between matter and electrical charge.[84]

There is an entire literature concerning the "structure of matter", ranging from the "electrical structure" in the early 20th century,[85] to the more recent "quark structure of matter", introduced today with the remark: Understanding the quark structure of matter has been one of the most important advances in contemporary physics.[86] In this connection, physicists speak of matter fields, and speak of particles as "quantum excitations of a mode of the matter field".[8][9] And here is a quote from de Sabbata and Gasperini: "With the word "matter" we denote, in this context, the sources of the interactions, that is spinor fields (like quarks and leptons), which are believed to be the fundamental components of matter, or scalar fields, like the Higgs particles, which are used to introduced mass in a gauge theory (and that, however, could be composed of more fundamental fermion fields)."[87]

In the late 19th century with the discovery of the electron, and in the early 20th century, with the discovery of the atomic nucleus, and the birth of particle physics, matter was seen as made up of electrons, protons and neutrons interacting to form atoms. Today, we know that even protons and neutrons are not indivisible, they can be divided into quarks, while electrons are part of a particle family called leptons. Both quarks and leptons are elementary particles, and are currently seen as being the fundamental constituents of matter.[88]

These quarks and leptons interact through four fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. The Standard Model of particle physics is currently the best explanation for all of physics, but despite decades of efforts, gravity cannot yet be accounted for at the quantum level; it is only described by classical physics (see quantum gravity and graviton).[89] Interactions between quarks and leptons are the result of an exchange of force-carrying particles (such as photons) between quarks and leptons.[90] The force-carrying particles are not themselves building blocks. As one consequence, mass and energy (which cannot be created or destroyed) cannot always be related to matter (which can be created out of non-matter particles such as photons, or even out of pure energy, such as kinetic energy). Force carriers are usually not considered matter: the carriers of the electric force (photons) possess energy (see Planck relation) and the carriers of the weak force (W and Z bosons) are massive, but neither are considered matter either.[91] However, while these particles are not considered matter, they do contribute to the total mass of atoms, subatomic particles, and all systems that contain them.[92][93]


The modern conception of matter has been refined many times in history, in light of the improvement in knowledge of just what the basic building blocks are, and in how they interact. The term "matter" is used throughout physics in a bewildering variety of contexts: for example, one refers to "condensed matter physics",[94] "elementary matter",[95] "partonic" matter, "dark" matter, "anti"-matter, "strange" matter, and "nuclear" matter. In discussions of matter and antimatter, normal matter has been referred to by Alfvén as koinomatter (Gk. common matter).[96] It is fair to say that in physics, there is no broad consensus as to a general definition of matter, and the term "matter" usually is used in conjunction with a specifying modifier.

The history of the concept of matter is a history of the fundamental length scales used to define matter. Different building blocks apply depending upon whether one defines matter on an atomic or elementary particle level. One may use a definition that matter is atoms, or that matter is hadrons, or that matter is leptons and quarks depending upon the scale at which one wishes to define matter.[97]

These quarks and leptons interact through four fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. The Standard Model of particle physics is currently the best explanation for all of physics, but despite decades of efforts, gravity cannot yet be accounted for at the quantum level; it is only described by classical physics (see quantum gravity and graviton).[89]

See also



Dark matter




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Further reading

My Pals Are Here! Science P3&4 Cycless-Chapter 3(Matter)

External links

Alma mater

Alma mater (Latin: alma mater, lit. 'nourishing mother'; pl. [rarely used] almae matres) is an allegorical Latin phrase for a university, school, or college that one formerly attended. In US usage it can also mean the school from which one graduated. The phrase is variously translated as "nourishing mother", "nursing mother", or "fostering mother", suggesting that a school provides intellectual nourishment to its students. Fine arts will often depict educational institutions using a robed woman as a visual metaphor.

Before its current usage, alma mater was an honorific title for various Latin mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and later in Catholicism for the Virgin Mary. It entered academic usage when the University of Bologna adopted the motto Alma Mater Studiorum ("nurturing mother of studies"), which describes its heritage as the oldest operating university in the Western world. It is related to alumnus, a term used for a university graduate that literally means a "nursling" or "one who is nourished".


In modern physics, antimatter is defined as a material composed of the antiparticles (or "partners") of the corresponding particles of ordinary matter. Minuscule numbers of antiparticles are generated daily at particle accelerators – total production has been only a few nanograms – and in natural processes like cosmic ray collisions and some types of radioactive decay, but only a tiny fraction of these have successfully been bound together in experiments to form anti-atoms. No macroscopic amount of antimatter has ever been assembled due to the extreme cost and difficulty of production and handling.

In theory, a particle and its anti-particle (for example, proton and antiproton) have the same mass, but opposite electric charge and other differences in quantum numbers. For example, a proton has positive charge while an antiproton has negative charge.

A collision between any particle and its anti-particle partner leads to their mutual annihilation, giving rise to various proportions of intense photons (gamma rays), neutrinos, and sometimes less-massive particle-antiparticle pairs. Annihilation usually results in a release of energy that becomes available for heat or work. The amount of the released energy is usually proportional to the total mass of the collided matter and antimatter, in accordance with the mass–energy equivalence equation, E=mc2.Antimatter particles bind with one another to form antimatter, just as ordinary particles bind to form normal matter. For example, a positron (the antiparticle of the electron) and an antiproton (the antiparticle of the proton) can form an antihydrogen atom. The nuclei of antihelium have been artificially produced with difficulty, and these are the most complex anti-nuclei so far observed. Physical principles indicate that complex antimatter atomic nuclei are possible, as well as anti-atoms corresponding to the known chemical elements.

There is strong evidence that the observable universe is composed almost entirely of ordinary matter, as opposed to an equal mixture of matter and antimatter.

This asymmetry of matter and antimatter in the visible universe is one of the great unsolved problems in physics. The process by which this inequality between matter and antimatter particles developed is called baryogenesis.

Big Bang

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the observable universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state, and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), large scale structure and Hubble's law (the farther away galaxies are, the faster they are moving away from Earth). If the observed conditions are extrapolated backwards in time using the known laws of physics, the prediction is that just before a period of very high density there was a singularity which is typically associated with the Big Bang. Physicists are undecided whether this means the universe began from a singularity, or that current knowledge is insufficient to describe the universe at that time. Detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe place the Big Bang at around 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe. After its initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms. Giant clouds of these primordial elements (mostly hydrogen, with some helium and lithium) later coalesced through gravity, eventually forming early stars and galaxies, the descendants of which are visible today. Astronomers also observe the gravitational effects of dark matter surrounding galaxies. Though most of the mass in the universe seems to be in the form of dark matter, Big Bang theory and various observations seem to indicate that it is not made out of conventional baryonic matter (protons, neutrons, and electrons) but it is unclear exactly what it is made out of.

Since Georges Lemaître first noted in 1927 that an expanding universe could be traced back in time to an originating single point, scientists have built on his idea of cosmic expansion. The scientific community was once divided between supporters of two different theories, the Big Bang and the Steady State theory, but a wide range of empirical evidence has strongly favored the Big Bang which is now universally accepted. In 1929, from analysis of galactic redshifts, Edwin Hubble concluded that galaxies are drifting apart; this is important observational evidence consistent with the hypothesis of an expanding universe. In 1964, the cosmic microwave background radiation was discovered, which was crucial evidence in favor of the Big Bang model, since that theory predicted the existence of background radiation throughout the universe before it was discovered. More recently, measurements of the redshifts of supernovae indicate that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, an observation attributed to dark energy's existence. The known physical laws of nature can be used to calculate the characteristics of the universe in detail back in time to an initial state of extreme density and temperature.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. BLM regularly holds protests speaking out against police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.In 2013, the movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Black Lives Matter became nationally recognized for its street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown—resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson—and Eric Garner in New York City. Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions or while in police custody. In the summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter activists became involved in the 2016 United States presidential election. The originators of the hashtag and call to action, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, expanded their project into a national network of over 30 local chapters between 2014 and 2016. The overall Black Lives Matter movement, however, is a decentralized network and has no formal hierarchy.There have been many reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement. The U.S. population's perception of Black Lives Matter varies considerably by race. The phrase "All Lives Matter" sprang up as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, but has been criticized for dismissing or misunderstanding the message of "Black Lives Matter". Following the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, the hashtag Blue Lives Matter was created by supporters of the police. Some black civil rights leaders have disagreed with tactics used by Black Lives Matter activists.

Black hole

A black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—not even particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from inside it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole. The boundary of the region from which no escape is possible is called the event horizon. Although the event horizon has an enormous effect on the fate and circumstances of an object crossing it, no locally detectable features appear to be observed. In many ways, a black hole acts like an ideal black body, as it reflects no light. Moreover, quantum field theory in curved spacetime predicts that event horizons emit Hawking radiation, with the same spectrum as a black body of a temperature inversely proportional to its mass. This temperature is on the order of billionths of a kelvin for black holes of stellar mass, making it essentially impossible to observe.

Objects whose gravitational fields are too strong for light to escape were first considered in the 18th century by John Michell and Pierre-Simon Laplace. The first modern solution of general relativity that would characterize a black hole was found by Karl Schwarzschild in 1916, although its interpretation as a region of space from which nothing can escape was first published by David Finkelstein in 1958. Black holes were long considered a mathematical curiosity; it was during the 1960s that theoretical work showed they were a generic prediction of general relativity. The discovery of neutron stars by Jocelyn Bell Burnell in 1967 sparked interest in gravitationally collapsed compact objects as a possible astrophysical reality.

Black holes of stellar mass are expected to form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. After a black hole has formed, it can continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings. By absorbing other stars and merging with other black holes, supermassive black holes of millions of solar masses (M☉) may form. There is general consensus that supermassive black holes exist in the centers of most galaxies.

Despite its invisible interior, the presence of a black hole can be inferred through its interaction with other matter and with electromagnetic radiation such as visible light. Matter that falls onto a black hole can form an external accretion disk heated by friction, forming some of the brightest objects in the universe. If there are other stars orbiting a black hole, their orbits can be used to determine the black hole's mass and location. Such observations can be used to exclude possible alternatives such as neutron stars. In this way, astronomers have identified numerous stellar black hole candidates in binary systems, and established that the radio source known as Sagittarius A*, at the core of the Milky Way galaxy, contains a supermassive black hole of about 4.3 million solar masses.

On 11 February 2016, the LIGO collaboration announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves, which also represented the first observation of a black hole merger. As of December 2018, eleven gravitational wave events have been observed that originated from ten merging black holes (along with one binary neutron star merger). On 10 April 2019, the first ever direct image of a black hole and its vicinity was published, following observations made by the Event Horizon Telescope in 2017 of the supermassive black hole in Messier 87's galactic centre.

Book design

Book design is the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design, and sequence of the various components and elements of a book into a coherent unit. In the words of the renowned typographer Jan Tschichold (1902–1974), book design, "though largely forgotten today, [relies upon] methods and rules upon which it is impossible to improve, [and which] have been developed over centuries. To produce perfect books, these rules have to be brought back to life and applied". Richard Hendel describes book design as "an arcane subject", and refers to the need for a context to understand what that means.

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon (Spanish: Catalina; 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) was Queen of England from June 1509 until May 1533 as the first wife of King Henry VIII; she was previously Princess of Wales as the wife of Henry's elder brother Arthur.

The daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, Catherine was three years old when she was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later. She held the position of ambassador of the Aragonese Crown to England in 1507, the first female ambassador in European history. Catherine subsequently married Arthur's younger brother, the recently ascended Henry VIII, in 1509. For six months in 1513, she served as regent of England while Henry VIII was in France. During that time the English won the Battle of Flodden, an event in which Catherine played an important part with an emotional speech about English courage.By 1525, Henry VIII was infatuated with Anne Boleyn and dissatisfied that his marriage to Catherine had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, the future Mary I of England, as heir presumptive at a time when there was no established precedent for a woman on the throne. He sought to have their marriage annulled, setting in motion a chain of events that led to England's schism with the Catholic Church. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, Henry defied him by assuming supremacy over religious matters. In 1533 their marriage was consequently declared invalid and Henry married Anne on the judgement of clergy in England, without reference to the Pope. Catherine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church in England and considered herself the King's rightful wife and queen, attracting much popular sympathy. Despite this, she was acknowledged only as Dowager Princess of Wales by Henry. After being banished from court, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle, and died there on 7 January 1536. English people held Catherine in high esteem, and her death set off tremendous mourning.The controversial book The Education of a Christian Woman by Juan Luis Vives, which claimed women have the right to an education, was commissioned by and dedicated to her in 1523. Such was Catherine's impression on people that even her enemy, Thomas Cromwell, said of her, "If not for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of History." She successfully appealed for the lives of the rebels involved in the Evil May Day, for the sake of their families. Catherine also won widespread admiration by starting an extensive programme for the relief of the poor. She was a patron of Renaissance humanism, and a friend of the great scholars Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas More.

Condensed matter physics

Condensed matter physics is the field of physics that deals with the macroscopic and microscopic physical properties of matter. In particular it is concerned with the "condensed" phases that appear whenever the number of constituents in a system is extremely large and the interactions between the constituents are strong. The most familiar examples of condensed phases are solids and liquids, which arise from the electromagnetic forces between atoms. Condensed matter physicists seek to understand the behavior of these phases by using physical laws. In particular, they include the laws of quantum mechanics, electromagnetism and statistical mechanics.

The most familiar condensed phases are solids and liquids while more exotic condensed phases include the superconducting phase exhibited by certain materials at low temperature, the ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic phases of spins on crystal lattices of atoms, and the Bose–Einstein condensate found in ultracold atomic systems. The study of condensed matter physics involves measuring various material properties via experimental probes along with using methods of theoretical physics to develop mathematical models that help in understanding physical behavior.

The diversity of systems and phenomena available for study makes condensed matter physics the most active field of contemporary physics: one third of all American physicists self-identify as condensed matter physicists, and the Division of Condensed Matter Physics is the largest division at the American Physical Society. The field overlaps with chemistry, materials science, and nanotechnology, and relates closely to atomic physics and biophysics. The theoretical physics of condensed matter shares important concepts and methods with that of particle physics and nuclear physics.A variety of topics in physics such as crystallography, metallurgy, elasticity, magnetism, etc., were treated as distinct areas until the 1940s, when they were grouped together as solid state physics. Around the 1960s, the study of physical properties of liquids was added to this list, forming the basis for the new, related specialty of condensed matter physics. According to physicist Philip Warren Anderson, the term was coined by him and Volker Heine, when they changed the name of their group at the Cavendish Laboratories, Cambridge from Solid state theory to Theory of Condensed Matter in 1967, as they felt it did not exclude their interests in the study of liquids, nuclear matter, and so on. Although Anderson and Heine helped popularize the name "condensed matter", it had been present in Europe for some years, most prominently in the form of a journal published in English, French, and German by Springer-Verlag titled Physics of Condensed Matter, which was launched in 1963. The funding environment and Cold War politics of the 1960s and 1970s were also factors that lead some physicists to prefer the name "condensed matter physics", which emphasized the commonality of scientific problems encountered by physicists working on solids, liquids, plasmas, and other complex matter, over "solid state physics", which was often associated with the industrial applications of metals and semiconductors. The Bell Telephone Laboratories was one of the first institutes to conduct a research program in condensed matter physics.References to "condensed" state can be traced to earlier sources. For example, in the introduction to his 1947 book Kinetic Theory of Liquids, Yakov Frenkel proposed that "The kinetic theory of liquids must accordingly be developed as a generalization and extension of the kinetic theory of solid bodies. As a matter of fact, it would be more correct to unify them under the title of 'condensed bodies'".

Dark energy

In physical cosmology and astronomy, dark energy is an unknown form of energy which is hypothesized to permeate all of space, tending to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most accepted hypothesis to explain the observations since the 1990s indicating that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.Assuming that the standard model of cosmology is correct, the best current measurements indicate that dark energy contributes 68% of the total energy in the present-day observable universe. The mass–energy of dark matter and ordinary (baryonic) matter contribute 27% and 5%, respectively, and other components such as neutrinos and photons contribute a very small amount. The density of dark energy is very low (~ 7 × 10−30 g/cm3) much less than the density of ordinary matter or dark matter within galaxies. However, it dominates the mass–energy of the universe because it is uniform across space.Two proposed forms for dark energy are the cosmological constant, representing a constant energy density filling space homogeneously, and scalar fields such as quintessence or moduli, dynamic quantities whose energy density can vary in time and space. Contributions from scalar fields that are constant in space are usually also included in the cosmological constant. The cosmological constant can be formulated to be equivalent to the zero-point radiation of space i.e. the vacuum energy. Scalar fields that change in space can be difficult to distinguish from a cosmological constant because the change may be extremely slow.

Dark matter

Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that is thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe and about a quarter of its total energy density. The majority of dark matter is thought to be non-baryonic in nature, possibly being composed of some as-yet undiscovered subatomic particles. Its presence is implied in a variety of astrophysical observations, including gravitational effects that cannot be explained by accepted theories of gravity unless more matter is present than can be seen. For this reason, most experts think dark matter to be ubiquitous in the universe and to have had a strong influence on its structure and evolution. Dark matter is called dark because it does not appear to interact with observable electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and is thus invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, making it extremely difficult to detect using usual astronomical equipment.The primary evidence for dark matter is that calculations show that many galaxies would fly apart instead of rotating, or would not have formed or move as they do, if they did not contain a large amount of unseen matter. Other lines of evidence include observations in gravitational lensing, from the cosmic microwave background, from astronomical observations of the observable universe's current structure, from the formation and evolution of galaxies, from mass location during galactic collisions, and from the motion of galaxies within galaxy clusters. In the standard Lambda-CDM model of cosmology, the total mass–energy of the universe contains 5% ordinary matter and energy, 27% dark matter and 68% of an unknown form of energy known as dark energy. Thus, dark matter constitutes 85% of total mass, while dark energy plus dark matter constitute 95% of total mass–energy content.Because dark matter has not yet been observed directly, if it exists, it must barely interact with ordinary baryonic matter and radiation, except through gravity. The primary candidate for dark matter is some new kind of elementary particle that has not yet been discovered, in particular, weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs), or gravitationally-interacting massive particles (GIMPs). Many experiments to directly detect and study dark matter particles are being actively undertaken, but none have yet succeeded. Dark matter is classified as cold, warm, or hot according to its velocity (more precisely, its free streaming length). Current models favor a cold dark matter scenario, in which structures emerge by gradual accumulation of particles.

Although the existence of dark matter is generally accepted by the scientific community, some astrophysicists, intrigued by certain observations that do not fit the dark matter theory, argue for various modifications of the standard laws of general relativity, such as modified Newtonian dynamics, tensor–vector–scalar gravity, or entropic gravity. These models attempt to account for all observations without invoking supplemental non-baryonic matter.


An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the system through photosynthesis and is incorporated into plant tissue. By feeding on plants and on one-another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system. They also influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be readily used by plants and other microbes.Ecosystems are controlled by external and internal factors. External factors such as climate, the parent material which forms the soil and topography, control the overall structure of an ecosystem, but are not themselves influenced by the ecosystem.Ecosystems are dynamic entities—they are subject to periodic disturbances and are in the process of recovering from some past disturbance. Ecosystems in similar environments that are located in different parts of the world can end up doing things very differently simply because they have different pools of species present. Internal factors not only control ecosystem processes but are also controlled by them and are often subject to feedback loops.Resource inputs are generally controlled by external processes like climate and parent material. Resource availability within the ecosystem is controlled by internal factors like decomposition, root competition or shading. Although humans operate within ecosystems, their cumulative effects are large enough to influence external factors like climate.Biodiversity affects ecosystem functioning, as do the processes of disturbance and succession. Ecosystems provide a variety of goods and services upon which people depend.


Feces (or faeces), colloquially known as poop, are the solid or semisolid remains of the food that could not be digested in the small intestine. Bacteria in the large intestine further break down the material. Feces contain a relatively small amount of metabolic waste products such as bacterially altered bilirubin, and the dead epithelial cells from the lining of the gut.Feces are discharged through the anus or cloaca during a process called defecation.

Feces can be used as fertilizer or soil conditioner in agriculture. It can also be burned and used as a fuel source or dried and used as a construction material. Some medicinal uses have been found. In the case of human feces, fecal transplants or fecal bacteriotherapy are in use. Urine and feces together are called excreta.

Grey matter

Grey matter (or gray matter) is a major component of the central nervous system, consisting of neuronal cell bodies, neuropil (dendrites and myelinated as well as unmyelinated axons), glial cells (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes), synapses, and capillaries. Grey matter is distinguished from white matter in that it contains numerous cell bodies and relatively few myelinated axons, while white matter contains relatively few cell bodies and is composed chiefly of long-range myelinated axon tracts. The colour difference arises mainly from the whiteness of myelin. In living tissue, grey matter actually has a very light grey colour with yellowish or pinkish hues, which come from capillary blood vessels and neuronal cell bodies.

Mass–energy equivalence

In physics, mass–energy equivalence states that anything having mass has an equivalent amount of energy and vice versa, with these fundamental quantities directly relating to one another by Albert Einstein's famous formula:

This formula states that the equivalent energy (E) can be calculated as the mass (m) multiplied by the speed of light (c = ~3×108 m/s) squared. Similarly, anything having energy exhibits a corresponding mass m given by its energy E divided by the speed of light squared c2. Because the speed of light is a very large number in everyday units, the formula implies that even an everyday object at rest with a modest amount of mass has a very large amount of energy intrinsically. Chemical, nuclear, and other energy transformations may cause a system to lose some of its energy content (and thus some corresponding mass), releasing it as the radiant energy of light or as thermal energy for example.

Mass–energy equivalence arose originally from special relativity as a paradox described by Henri Poincaré. Einstein proposed it on 21 November 1905, in the paper Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy-content?, one of his Annus Mirabilis (Miraculous Year) papers. Einstein was the first to propose that the equivalence of mass and energy is a general principle and a consequence of the symmetries of space and time.

A consequence of the mass–energy equivalence is that if a body is stationary, it still has some internal or intrinsic energy, called its rest energy, corresponding to its rest mass. When the body is in motion, its total energy is greater than its rest energy, and equivalently its total mass (also called relativistic mass in this context) is greater than its rest mass. This rest mass is also called the intrinsic or invariant mass because it remains the same regardless of this motion, even for the extreme speeds or gravity considered in special and general relativity.

The mass–energy formula also serves to convert units of mass to units of energy (and vice versa), no matter what system of measurement units is used.


Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental aspects and consciousness, are results of material interactions.

In Idealism, mind and consciousness are first-order realities to which matter is subject and secondary. In philosophical materialism the converse is true. Here mind and consciousness are by-products or epiphenomena of material processes (the biochemistry of the human brain and nervous system, for example) without which they cannot exist. According to this doctrine the material creates and determines consciousness, not vice versa.

Materialist theories are mainly divided into three groups. Naive materialism identifies the material world with specific elements (e.g. the scheme of the four elements—fire, air, water and earth—devised by the pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles). Metaphysical materialism examines separated parts of the world in a static, isolated environment. Dialectical materialism adapts the Hegelian dialectic for materialism, examining parts of the world in relation to each other within a dynamic environment.

Materialism is closely related to physicalism, the view that all that exists is ultimately physical. Philosophical physicalism has evolved from materialism with the theories of the physical sciences to incorporate more sophisticated notions of physicality than mere ordinary matter, such as: spacetime, physical energies and forces, dark matter, and so on. Thus the term "physicalism" is preferred over "materialism" by some, while others use the terms as if they are synonymous.

Philosophies contradictory to materialism or physicalism include idealism, pluralism, dualism, and other forms of monism.


Physics (from Ancient Greek: φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), translit. physikḗ (epistḗmē), lit. 'knowledge of nature', from φύσις phýsis "nature") is the natural science that studies matter, its motion, and behavior through space and time, and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines and, through its inclusion of astronomy, perhaps the oldest. Over much of the past two millennia, physics, chemistry, biology, and certain branches of mathematics, were a part of natural philosophy, but during the scientific revolution in the 17th century these natural sciences emerged as unique research endeavors in their own right. Physics intersects with many interdisciplinary areas of research, such as biophysics and quantum chemistry, and the boundaries of physics which are not rigidly defined. New ideas in physics often explain the fundamental mechanisms studied by other sciences and suggest new avenues of research in academic disciplines such as mathematics and philosophy.

Advances in physics often enable advances in new technologies. For example, advances in the understanding of electromagnetism and nuclear physics led directly to the development of new products that have dramatically transformed modern-day society, such as television, computers, domestic appliances, and nuclear weapons; advances in thermodynamics led to the development of industrialization; and advances in mechanics inspired the development of calculus.

Plasma (physics)

Plasma (from Ancient Greek πλάσμα​, meaning 'moldable substance') is one of the four fundamental states of matter, and was first described by chemist Irving Langmuir in the 1920s. Plasma can be artificially generated by heating or subjecting a neutral gas to a strong electromagnetic field to the point where an ionized gaseous substance becomes increasingly electrically conductive, and long-range electromagnetic fields dominate the behaviour of the matter.Plasma and ionized gases have properties and display behaviours unlike those of the other states, and the transition between them is mostly a matter of nomenclature and subject to interpretation. Based on the surrounding environmental temperature and density, partially ionized or fully ionized forms of plasma may be produced. Neon signs and lightning are examples of partially ionized plasma. The Earth's ionosphere is a plasma and the magnetosphere contains plasma in the Earth's surrounding space environment. The interior of the Sun is an example of fully ionized plasma, along with the solar corona and stars.Positive charges in ions are achieved by stripping away electrons orbiting the atomic nuclei, where the total number of electrons removed is related to either increasing temperature or the local density of other ionized matter. This also can be accompanied by the dissociation of molecular bonds, though this process is distinctly different from chemical processes of ion interactions in liquids or the behaviour of shared ions in metals. The response of plasma to electromagnetic fields is used in many modern technological devices, such as plasma televisions or plasma etching.Plasma may be the most abundant form of ordinary matter in the universe, although this hypothesis is currently tentative based on the existence and unknown properties of dark matter. Plasma is mostly associated with stars, extending to the rarefied intracluster medium and possibly the intergalactic regions.

State of matter

In physics, a state of matter is one of the distinct forms in which matter can exist. Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Many other states are known to exist, such as glass or liquid crystal, and some only exist under extreme conditions, such as Bose–Einstein condensates, neutron-degenerate matter, and quark-gluon plasma, which only occur, respectively, in situations of extreme cold, extreme density, and extremely high-energy. Some other states are believed to be possible but remain theoretical for now. For a complete list of all exotic states of matter, see the list of states of matter.

Historically, the distinction is made based on qualitative differences in properties. Matter in the solid state maintains a fixed volume and shape, with component particles (atoms, molecules or ions) close together and fixed into place. Matter in the liquid state maintains a fixed volume, but has a variable shape that adapts to fit its container. Its particles are still close together but move freely. Matter in the gaseous state has both variable volume and shape, adapting both to fit its container. Its particles are neither close together nor fixed in place. Matter in the plasma state has variable volume and shape, but as well as neutral atoms, it contains a significant number of ions and electrons, both of which can move around freely.

The term phase is sometimes used as a synonym for state of matter, but a system can contain several immiscible phases of the same state of matter.


The Universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. While the spatial size of the entire Universe is unknown, it is possible to measure the size of the observable universe, which is currently estimated to be 93 billion light years in diameter. In various multiverse hypotheses, a universe is one of many causally disconnected constituent parts of a larger multiverse, which itself comprises all of space and time and its contents.The earliest scientific models of the Universe were developed by ancient Greek and Indian philosophers and were geocentric, placing Earth at the center of the Universe. Over the centuries, more precise astronomical observations led Nicolaus Copernicus to develop the heliocentric model with the Sun at the center of the Solar System. In developing the law of universal gravitation, Isaac Newton built upon Copernicus' work as well as observations by Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

Further observational improvements led to the realization that the Sun is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, which is one of at least hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe. Many of the stars in our galaxy have planets. At the largest scale galaxies are distributed uniformly and the same in all directions, meaning that the Universe has neither an edge nor a center. At smaller scales, galaxies are distributed in clusters and superclusters which form immense filaments and voids in space, creating a vast foam-like structure. Discoveries in the early 20th century have suggested that the Universe had a beginning and that space has been expanding since then, and is currently still expanding at an increasing rate.The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development of the Universe. Under this theory, space and time emerged together 13.799±0.021 billion years ago and the energy and matter initially present have become less dense as the Universe expanded. After an initial accelerated expansion called the inflationary epoch at around 10−32 seconds, and the separation of the four known fundamental forces, the Universe gradually cooled and continued to expand, allowing the first subatomic particles and simple atoms to form. Dark matter gradually gathered forming a foam-like structure of filaments and voids under the influence of gravity. Giant clouds of hydrogen and helium were gradually drawn to the places where dark matter was most dense, forming the first galaxies, stars, and everything else seen today. It is possible to see objects that are now further away than 13.799 billion light-years because space itself has expanded, and it is still expanding today. This means that objects which are now up to 46.5 billion light-years away can still be seen in their distant past, because in the past when their light was emitted, they were much closer to the Earth.

From studying the movement of galaxies, it has been discovered that the universe contains much more matter than is accounted for by visible objects; stars, galaxies, nebulas and interstellar gas. This unseen matter is known as dark matter (dark means that there is a wide range of strong indirect evidence that it exists, but we have not yet detected it directly). The ΛCDM model is the most widely accepted model of our universe. It suggests that about 69.2%±1.2% [2015] of the mass and energy in the universe is a cosmological constant (or, in extensions to ΛCDM, other forms of dark energy such as a scalar field) which is responsible for the current expansion of space, and about 25.8%±1.1% [2015] is dark matter. Ordinary ("baryonic") matter is therefore only 4.9% [2015] of the physical universe. Stars, planets, and visible gas clouds only form about 6% of ordinary matter, or about 0.3% of the entire universe.There are many competing hypotheses about the ultimate fate of the universe and about what, if anything, preceded the Big Bang, while other physicists and philosophers refuse to speculate, doubting that information about prior states will ever be accessible. Some physicists have suggested various multiverse hypotheses, in which our universe might be one among many universes that likewise exist.

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