# Why particulate matter?

Teachers teach us that matter is particulate because on dissolving a sugar cube into water it dissolves completely without raising the level of water. The level does not rise because water has spaces between itself. This proves that water or simply a liquid is particulate. But how do we prove that the solute or a solid is particulate as well?

mfb
Mentor
With other experiments like stoichiometry in reactions. It is not a real proof anyway, just a good argument. Physics has more powerful tools for that.

With other experiments like stoichiometry in reactions. It is not a real proof anyway, just a good argument. Physics has more powerful tools for that.
Could you give me some real proofs?

mfb
Mentor
There are no proofs in science.

Seems to me that dissolving a sugar cube in a cup of coffee may not increase the volume but it certainly increases the mass (and flavor) of the coffee.
But drop a cup of sugar in a full cup of coffee, I guarantee the coffee will spill over the rim I believe the term is *saturation* which limits the ability to absorb.

phinds
Gold Member
2021 Award
Seems to me that dissolving a sugar cube in a cup of coffee may not increase the volume but it certainly increases the mass (and flavor) of the coffee.
But drop a cup of sugar in a full cup of coffee, I guarantee the coffee will spill over the rim I believe the term is *saturation* which limits the ability to absorb.

I just wanted to address the example of a sugar cube in the coffee, which I believe to be incorrect or at least misleading as it deals with ability to absorb until saturated. But even then, a saturated medium is still particulate.

Perhaps I misunderstood the OP question, but it seems to me that everything is fundamentally particulate down to Planck scale. Is there any state of matter that is not particulate? A singularity?

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phinds
Gold Member
2021 Award
I just wanted to address the example of a sugar cube in the coffee, which I believe to be incorrect or at least incomplete.

Perhaps I misunderstood the OP question, but it seems to me that everything is fundamentally particulate down to Planck scale. Is there any state of matter that is not particulate? A singularity?
A light beam isn't particulate. It has "photons" but they are really only exhibited when the beam hits something. Also, you need to be careful about "particulate" since electrons, for example, are particles but "point particles" not little tiny pool balls which is what I always think of with "particulate"

I tried to answer in context of solutes or solids, and I did consider the properties of elementary particles such as photons or bosons.
But I have a few questions in regards to light which is not a solid or a liquid, but it does consist of photons with different frequencies. Would that make it particulate in principle? Then bosons (Higgs) are the glue that holds everything together and must be a particle existing in all things, which would make everything particulate, IMHO.

A triangular prism dispersing a beam of white light. The longer wavelengths (red) and the shorter wavelengths (blue) get separated
Does that qualify white light as being particulate in and of itself?

This is why I closed my response with the question about singularities, like a single photon or a single boson. I may be way off track here in my interpretation of the terms *particulate* and *singularity*

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mfb
Mentor
I just wanted to address the example of a sugar cube in the coffee, which I believe to be incorrect or at least misleading as it deals with ability to absorb until saturated. But even then, a saturated medium is still particulate.
A=>B does not imply B=>A.
"X shows us Y" does not mean that "not X shows Y cannot be true".

You can have an experiment where the argument cannot be used, but as long as you have an experiment where it works the argument works.
But I have a few questions in regards to light