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What is the purpose of the term 'Matter'?

  1. Dec 8, 2015 #1
    I will preface my question with the fact that I am a high school student with only a general knowledge of physics, though I have learned about a variety of phenomena at the limited level of depth that I am capable of. I am curious about several concepts and observed phenomena that are fundamentally important to our understanding of the universe, but seem to be nebulously defined. Among these terms, 'matter' is of the greatest concern to me. I have seen it defined, variously, as the amount of particles, mass, or even 'stuff' in an object. 'Stuff', obviously, is insufficiently clear to be used. Particles, while more specific, appears fundamentally flawed as the basis for matter, because particles themselves are generally considered to have matter (Particles meaning elementary particles). So only mass is left. Why, then, do we use 'matter' when we already have a more-clearly defined term, mass? If my understanding of these terms is incorrect, and this is the cause of my confusion, please let me know as well.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2015 #2
    Matter is defined as anything that occupies space and has mass. While mass is defined as something that represents the amount of matter in a particular space or particle. Matter can be measured using volume weight and many other units while mass is only measured in kilograms . They use matter to better explain observations happening in space, for example if i say "this cup has 200 milliliters of liquid inside of it" you can visualize that as being 1/5 of a liter but I can't tell you how much space something takes up with mass in that example if I said "this cup has 200 grams of liquid inside of it" you would know the mass of the liquid but you wouldn't be able to visualize how much space that mass would take up unless you knew what the liquid is and what it's density is to convert it into a volume representation and/or matter representation.Hope I helped.
  4. Dec 8, 2015 #3


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    Education Advisor

    This wiki article is a good start, and I would encourage you to read it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matter

    Key excerpts:


  5. Dec 9, 2015 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    This is completely incorrect.
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