describe an activity to show that matter is composed of particles
Physical Nature of Matter
- Is matter continuous or particulate in nature?
From the beginning, the scientific community has held a divided view on the physical nature of matter. While one group was of the view that matter is continuous like a piece of stone or a block of wood, the other group believed that matter is particulate i.e. it is made up of small particles such as sand. This debate continued for a very long time, until it was proved beyond doubt that matter is particulate in nature. This can be understood better by performing the following activity.
Take 50 mL water in a beaker. Mark the level of water in the beaker. Now, add some salt to the beaker and stir well with the help of a spoon (as shown in the figure). Observe the level of water now. Add some more salt and repeat the above procedure.
What do you observe? Does the level of water change after every addition?
It will be observed that salt disappears after being added to water. However, there is no change in the level of water in the beaker.
This observation can be explained if we assume that matter is made up of particles. A chunk of salt consists of numerous salt crystals. Each crystal of salt is made up of many small salt particles. These particles become dissociated from each other and spread uniformly between the particles of water. Thus, the level of water in the beaker remains the same. These particles are so small that we cannot see them with the naked eye. Hence, it can be concluded that matter is made up of particles i.e. matter is particulate in nature.