Matter and atom

What is matter?

• You can consider that matter is everything that surrounds you.

Trees, mountains, air, pollution, even you are matter.

Being accurate it is not completely true. Not all is matter. For example, light is not considered matter. A more specific definition would be that matter is anything that takes up space. The problem is that to define ‘space’ is not easy. Another possibility is to define matter as anything composed of ‘atoms’. But we are going to introduce atoms later (in fact, just below), then we should not use this term yet. Because of all these reasons, we finally decided to use that extremely simple definition. It is an example of the complexity of describing some concepts that, at first sight, could seem very basic.

What is the matter made of?

• Matter is composed of small particles named ‘atoms’.

This is one of the main discoveries of science. Everything is made of a small number of minute particles. That is, the complexity that you observe around you is the result of the combination of less than one hundred bricks. It is surprising, but it is a constant in our world, as you will see during the next sections. All living beings, for instance, are made of a limited number of basic components.

Just in the following page, we will start working with atoms. Because of we do not know yet ‘how atoms are built’, we will represent them as spheres of different colors.

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