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What is matter? Options
Jeech
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 2:02:30 AM
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Gas
Solid
and Liquid
are forms of matter that we were told in the school. My child asks me where to put waves (like magenatic waves, Infrared waves, radio waves etc.) and put me in trouble. Are they of some other category and are no matter? Help please.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 5:28:07 AM

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I don't know what age your child is, so I do not know how best to put this, (and I am no physicist) but I hope this helps.

Under the theory of wave-particle duality, waves are also particles. Eg light is a wave, but it also travels as distinct quanta and can be pulled by gravity, for instance warped by a black hole. All the other electromagnetic waves (radio, IR etc) are just 'light' of different frequencies (if thought of as a wave) or energies (if thought of as a particle).

But they are only 'particles', - photons.

They interact at the electron level, eg a photon (light) hitting a substance can make it eject an electron.

Atoms and molecules are significantly more complex than these particles. These are the substances that group together to form a solid, liquid, or gas (or plasma). That describes the relationship between the atoms or molecules - either they are closely linked and only move by vibration to form a solid, or are free to move independently in a gas, etc.

so, light and radio waves can be thought of as matter, but as discrete particles that never interact and link together in the way atoms or molecules do to make a solid, liquid or gas.

The are just on their own as quantum particle like photons, or 'together' in a wave or a field

Interesting question, though, bright kid for asking it!

edit - as I say, physics not my area, so I welcome any correction of my mistakes or misconceptions!

srirr
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 5:33:26 AM

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I still believe in the definition of matter that was taught to me in schools.

Matter is something which has mass and occupies space.

Since photon or wave or energy has no mass, they should not be treated as matter.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 5:40:38 AM

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you are not an Einsteinian then, Srirr, E = Mc^2 ??
but I agree
waves do not explain all propertis of light

'matter' (particles) does not explain all properties of light.

'particle', here, is just a word for a discrete bundle of energy.

I suspect the problem is in our ability to imagine or conceptualise things, rather than with the light!

marasu66
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:23:57 AM
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E=mcc just means matter is highly concentrated energy. All matter is energy, but not all energy is matter.
pedro
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:50:34 AM
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"The stars are matter,
We're matter,
But it doesn't matter"

Don van Vliet
thar
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:52:27 AM

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marasu66 wrote:
E=mcc just means matter is highly concentrated energy. All matter is energy, but not all energy is matter.


very true, as you say
but also, matter is just fluctuations of energy in a quantum vacuum.

But if energy does fluctuate and become matter (and antimatter) then back to energy, then maybe it was matter. And if time is not a real dimension, it is matter. And statistically, given the speed of quantum fluctuations, the amount of energy in the universe and the time it has been in existence, what is the probability that it was matter, and will be matter again. So maybe all energy is just matter on a time out....Whistle ...

Like my brain right now - brain matter needs food energy!
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 8:35:53 AM
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Fascinating, Thar.

But time as matter?

I mean, this is probably a really naive question and, like you, I'm not a physicist so it would take me ages and ages to state this properly but..

time doesn't actually exist, does it? It's not, as you say, a dimension. It's not energy. You can't point to any neat equation (can you?) that proves it's existance.

It doesn't exist independently of the human mind, does it? So how can it be matter any more than any other product of our mind? Or, hang on, does our mind produce energy of which the notion of time is a part? (Nah, I don't think that one can fly because it would be too variable, wouldn't it?)

Sorry about all the question marks, but as I said, I know very little about physics: and that applies to the jargon as well.
pedro
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 8:58:24 AM
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The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe measured the breakdown of matter in the universe. Normal star-like (and human being like!) matter, which comprises the solid, gas and liquid your son asked about, makes up only 4.6% of the total mass of the universe- cold dark matter and dark energy make up about 95%- and this is stuff we know little about although there are candidates- see link below to the NASA site


http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/uni_matter.html

Whether time exists is another problem. The laws of thermodynamics suggest it does. Einsteins general relativity suggests it doesn't.



Ray41
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 9:09:04 AM

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Well the sun rises, and there is a period of what we call time before it sets, so even if we humans didn't exist there would still be the equivalent of time.Think
There is motion throughout this world and the universe, and motion takes/uses time?



[image not available]
thar
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 9:47:24 AM

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Romany wrote:
Fascinating, Thar.

But time as matter?

I mean, this is probably a really naive question and, like you, I'm not a physicist so it would take me ages and ages to state this properly but..

time doesn't actually exist, does it? It's not, as you say, a dimension. It's not energy. You can't point to any neat equation (can you?) that proves it's existance.

It doesn't exist independently of the human mind, does it? So how can it be matter any more than any other product of our mind? Or, hang on, does our mind produce energy of which the notion of time is a part? (Nah, I don't think that one can fly because it would be too variable, wouldn't it?)

Sorry about all the question marks, but as I said, I know very little about physics: and that applies to the jargon as well.


oops, I seem to have started another topic there (do I get a nobel prize if anything come of it?) This probably belongs in one of those pronoun threads - I actually meant matter was energy, and that therefore matter is energy (if time is not real). The latest I heard is that physicists are close (yeah..) to removing the need for time as a dimension in quantum physics. I must admit I did not read any further, valuing what brain I have and what time I have, and not wanting my brain to explode up its own past by trying to understand physics research news!

but if time is bent by a singularity (the whole space-time topology thing) then it must be subject to gravity, and F= GMm/r^2, so it must have mass to be effected by gravity, so it must be matter.

Ergo, time is matter. Can I have my Nobel now?
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 9:51:25 AM

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Events are occurring simultaneously and sequentially throughout the universe. Motion, at some level, is constant. Time, to my mind, is simply a means of delineating these events, one from another. Therefore, if there was no one to measure it, the events would still occur, but there would be no "time" as we know it, simply events that occur. "Time" is, therefore, unnecessary so far as the events as concerned.

Of course, there is "time" as we call it, and the constant motion I referred to earlier. It may be said that that constant motion can be considered "time", I suppose.

ETA: thar posted same "time" as I. The fact that time is affected by gravity gives me some evidence that the motion I described could, indeed, be "time", since motion is affected by gravity. Think
thar
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:17:26 AM

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ah, but what about radioactivity. An element decays 'because of' time.

An individual atom has no response to time, it decays spontaneously, with a particular probability at any single instant in time. But once the atom decays, it cannot undecay, so the element as a whole has a relationship with time because it decreases with time, as the atoms that have decayed stay decayed, and the ones that have not decayed have a constant likelihood of decaying right now. So time is the relationship between two different elements, or a matter of scale? One atom has no sense of time, but an element has a memory.....Whistle
pedro
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:21:47 AM
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to Foundit; But they don't occur simultaneously because their occurence is transmitted at a finite velocity (limit c velocity of light in a vacuum) . Some wag once said that the reason the velocity of light is finite is so that everything doesn't happen at the same time.
Acharya
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:14:47 AM
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Matter - Never mind
Mind - No matter
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:37:48 AM

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@ thar,
But isn't an "instant in time" a measurement of motion from one "instant" to another? Also, the atom existed in one state, then changed its state. An event occurred. Whether we exist to define that event as "time" seems irrelevant to me. I am simply picturing a Universe that is in constant motion of some type. The more I think of that, the more it seems to me that THIS is what "time" really is.

It also seems to me that everything WE call time is nothing more than the measure of one event to another. I cannot see how time can exist as an entity. It is simply a measurement, and for that measurement to occur, there must be someone to do the measuring.

@pedro,
I didn't mean to imply that events were occurring simultaneously over the Universe, but that some events were occurring simultaneously, and some were occurring sequentially, somewhere in the Universe.


ETA: Lest there be some confusion, I say there are two types of "time". One is the arbitrary measurement of seconds, minutes, etc. we made up. The second, is the events of motion that is constantly occurring throughout the Universe that go on with or without anyone measuring it. However, that kind of "time" seems to me to be arbitrary also in that we call it time when, in fact, it is simply motion. Ok, now my brain officially hurts.



Romany
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:37:02 PM
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Foundit -

"I say there are two types of "time". One is the arbitrary measurement of seconds, minutes, etc. we made up. The second, is the events of motion that is constantly occurring throughout the Universe that go on with or without anyone measuring it. However, that kind of "time" seems to me to be arbitrary also in that we call it time when, in fact, it is simply motion."

That's what I meant. I think. OK: dismiss the first as a man-made construct and what are we left with? Simply motion. Motion we can prove. It is observable in even our day-to-day world. But because the human brain (as yet?) needs to anchor itself within paradigms and limits, it is necessary for us to INVENT another construct with which to to be able to measure motion. This construct which has no substance/matter; which cannot be proved or observed; exists only within the minds of humankind.

If we agree that the universe is infinite are we not indeed admitting that time doesn't exist?

If,as Thar said, physicists are even discoursing about the possibility of removing 'time' from quantum physics - then to me it stands to reason that everything above the level of quantum physics i.e. the physics which has served to define our world, is similarly affected. Q (to me, anyway) ED.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 5:32:16 PM

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How much does it matter if we all have only a jiffy of time?
Ms. B. Have
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 6:18:40 PM
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Jeech wrote:
My child asks me where to put waves (like magenatic waves, Infrared waves, radio waves etc.) and put me in trouble. Are they of some other category and are no matter? Help please.


Dear Jeech, after reading this thread it can't be a problem anymore to help your child where to put a wave. If your child still doesn't understand it, then tell him/her that once a great professor of Quantum Electrodynamics said on a lecture about this same subject:

Quote:
You see my physics students don't understand it. ... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does. Feynman, Richard P. Nobel Lecture, 1966, 1918-1988, QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter)


Then you give her/him a kiss and explain it like this: "You feel only 1 kiss, matter is what you feel on your skin, what you feel in your heart is the wave."

Success!

Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:21:40 PM

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Ms. B. Have wrote:

Then you give her/him a kiss and explain it like this: "You feel only 1 kiss, matter is what you feel on your skin, what you feel in your heart is the wave."

Success!



Awww! Angel Good answer!

Do you have children, miss B?

Quote from some earlier thread where I wrote:

I have told this story here before, I think...

My first-born son once (at the bed-time) asked me what is human Soul. Before I had time to answer he continued asking where does the human Spirit live in. While I was trying to put my thoughts in order for an appropriate answer to a 6 years old boy, he ended the questioning with the third case: what is blood circulation?

I asked him to follow me to the kitchen-table, took an A3 sheet of paper and draw for him a caricature of human body with heart, lungs and arteries. Brains, too. It was quite easy to explain the circulation system in simple enough but still scientific way.

Answering the first two questions was complex. I tried to tell him that no one really knows. Spirit and Soul are questions of faith, and there are religions which tells these things slightly differently. Some might think Spirit or Soul (or both) "living" in our hearts, some in brains, some in our thoughts only.

"But if you can have a sense of Yourself being inside You, you can say it's ME, right here right now, then you can have some kind of idea of Soul or Spirit, being it from God, gods, Cosmic Force, Universal Awareness or whatever." Saying that seemed to satisfy this young man's studious mind enough. So, back to bed, hug to daddy, and Good Night.

Daddy JJ sat afterwards in the kitchen having a couple of beers and thinking the difference of science and religion, and that kids are not stupid. No, they are full of soul and spirit.

That son's own little princess is now six months old and he can't wait to have to answer for insatiably curious questions ;-)


That little princess is now eight months old and seems to be very curious, of which I'm very glad and proud.

Ms. B. Have
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:40:33 PM
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Everything we lose in life, isoisä, will be returned to us by a child, if we let them.

GeorgeV
Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 10:49:53 AM
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I've never imagined I would post in this category, but the key words - sound waves and energy - cought my eyes in the article:
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/revolutionary-jet-engine-no-moving-parts-040959857.html
RubyMoon
Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 10:58:33 AM
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Good article, George.

Here's the misleading and therefore confusing sentence:

The Avro engine converts sound waves into energy.
Jean_extraterre
Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 2:26:27 PM
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Although there is no "strict" definition of matter in physics, one may consider a system as matter if it contains particles with nonvanishing rest mass; there is no unique convention whether there must be more than one particle or whether one already may regard, e.g., a single electron as matter. If one takes the electron as a point particle and requires that matter should also occupy some volume in space, then a single electron falls outside the definition of matter. Rest mass is the mass of the particle in the inertial system where it is at rest. Photons, the quanta of the electromagnetic field, always move with the speed of light in any inertial system, there is no Lorentz transformation that can bring them to rest; their rest mass is zero. So they (and thus electromagnetic waves or radiation) aren't matter according to the definition above.

Time is as real as space is. According to special and general relativity, they cannot be separated, but must be considered together as space-time. This space-time is not independent of its content; the Einstein field equations (basic to general relativity) relate the structure of space-time with the so-called energy-momentum tensor. The latter not only comprises the matter density, but also the density of energy as well as its flux. One may think about a generalization of the notion of matter by speaking of matter as soon as the energy-momentum tensor doesn't vanish (which would imply that then also photons may be regarded as matter), but probably this will more confuse than enlighten the discussion.
RubyMoon
Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 2:52:08 PM
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Jean - Thanks for the space-time explanation. I was going to mention it yesterday... but I don't have enough physics-knowledge to offer a clear insight.

I think thar's initial post(s) in this thread, combined with your contribution, answers the OP's question - and then some !*

My statement re the Avro engine: to me it should read The Avro engine converts sound wave energy into...
http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/classes/152.mf1i.spring02/SoundWaves.htm

Also wanted to add that "matter" (other than the solid-liquid-gas variety) is sometimes referred to as Energetic Matter (light waves, etc.).

*All posts in the thread are great; I really enjoyed this.
leonAzul
Posted: Friday, April 20, 2012 12:15:30 PM

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Jeech wrote:
Gas
Solid
and Liquid
are forms of matter that we were told in the school. My child asks me where to put waves (like magenatic waves, Infrared waves, radio waves etc.) and put me in trouble. Are they of some other category and are no matter? Help please.


One of my favorite explanations of the difference between energy and matter comes from an acquaintance of mine who teaches physics at the undergraduate level:

"Energy is matter, but a lot faster."
FounDit
Posted: Friday, April 20, 2012 4:47:37 PM

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leonAzul wrote:
One of my favorite explanations of the difference between energy and matter comes from an acquaintance of mine who teaches physics at the undergraduate level:

"Energy is matter, but a lot faster."

Think So if energy is fast moving matter, then it stands to reason that matter is energy that has slowed down (or in the process of slowing down). If energy has slowed down, then it likely is holding together atomically and molecularly because of electromagnetic force.

Ok. If then we (to use an example) are simply energy that is moving slower and held together electromagnetically, then when we die, our atoms are dispersed and what? break apart? revert back to energy? How? If our atoms were energy to begin with and slowed down? They wouldn't simply speed up again.

Think Maybe this is what dark matter is made of, all the stuff in the Universe that once was matter but has now disintergrated (died). Weak particles of electromagnetic force that cannot hold together any longer.....Ok, my brain hurts again. Someone else pick it up from here.


leonAzul
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 9:43:42 AM

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FounDit wrote:

leonAzul wrote:

One of my favorite explanations of the difference between energy and matter comes from an acquaintance of mine who teaches physics at the undergraduate level:

"Energy is matter, but a lot faster."


Think So if energy is fast moving matter, then it stands to reason that matter is energy that has slowed down (or in the process of slowing down).


Another way to look at it is that matter is "condensed" energy the way that gas is "condensed" plasma, liquid is condensed gas, or a solid is "condensed" liquid.

FounDit wrote:

If energy has slowed down, then it likely is holding together atomically and molecularly because of electromagnetic force.


Strong force, weak force, and gravity might have something to do with it as well. Think

Electromagnetism is mostly influential at the chemical or molecular scale. At larger or smaller scales it is not all that significant, but rather follows the dominant forces. It is this general lack of interaction with matter that allows radio waves to propagate so far.

FounDit
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 10:21:45 AM

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leonAzul wrote:

Electromagnetism is mostly influential at the chemical or molecular scale. At larger or smaller scales it is not all that significant, but rather follows the dominant forces. It is this general lack of interaction with matter that allows radio waves to propagate so far.


This is kind of what I had in mind, even considering gravity as electromagnetic force. Where is a physicist when you need one?

But I'm still wrestling with what happens to our atoms when we cease? Do they continue to slow down over eons? If so, into what, if we were the result of a slowing down, a "clumping" if you will. (As an aside, I think I just found my purpose in life...I'm a clump!!)

Interesting. I suggested earlier that the end result may be dark matter. What if (and I really should write science fiction) when dark matter becomes surrounded by a galaxy for instance, the dark matter becomes concentrated. It becomes a null zone. So much so, that even light, when it enters is slowed down to the point it ceases to exist as energy. Of course, the remnants have to go somewhere so, like a pulsar, the detritus (unlike a pulsar) is simply ejected slowly (oozes) out of black hole into the Universe at large. Uh, huh. Pretty good BS even if I say so myself.

Wait. Didn't I see this on an original Star Trek episode? No. That was a null zone where they couldn't use energy without an equal and opposite reaction. My null zone saps energy, dissipates it until it no longer exists. Ok, moving on.

RubyMoon
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 10:42:31 AM
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FounDit - Are you just referring to the decomposition of an organism upon death ?
RubyMoon
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 12:16:38 PM
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What's the matter ?

Feeling spaced-out ?

Does anybody really know what time it is ?

Okay ... Seriously, in answer to 'where's a physicist when you need one' - Brian Greene is #1 on my list. He is often on NOVA, etc.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Greene

A Cool Scientist Under Stupid Pressure From That One Pain-In-The-Ass Student:
http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/167386/may-27-2008/brian-greene
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 6:07:07 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:
FounDit - Are you just referring to the decomposition of an organism upon death ?



It began with the idea of matter being energy slowed down, but then I began to play with the idea and wondered what happened to matter if it is on a continuum, progressively slowing down. What does it eventually become?

Playing as a child in the sandbox of physics, I can only speculate and fantasize. So it simply became a half-serious game of "what if", and I was having fun with it.

I read the link you provided on Brian Greene. Very interesting, though way over my head when one gets into branes and string theory. I'm forced to keep it simple. Drool

Can't watch videos, however. Between the poor sound quality and my poor quality of hearing, its a waste of time and effort. When I watch youtube videos, its just for the moving pictures.



[image not available]



RubyMoon
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 7:07:15 PM
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FounDit - I think that's a neat question, and I can only answer it at the most basic level (eliminating, in a sense, the difficult-to-grasp theories of strings and waves and relativity, etc.).

Let's go with the basics: All matter is composed of atoms. The nucleus of an atom "contains" the neutrons and protons; the electrons are flying around the nucleus. So, if there is a "slow-down" it would be that of the speed (for lack of a more precise term) of the electrons.

I believe the theory still holds that it is the motion of the electrons that creates the illusion of solid matter. It's been said that if all the electrons in all of the atoms of a wall (an actual wall in your home) were to stop moving, the wall would crumble into a "dust" heap on the floor. This means that the solids we observe are mostly space.

Another way to visualize this: take a regular fan and run it at high-speed. The blades represent the electrons. At high-speed, it appears as if the fan is (somewhat) a solid object. When the fan is turned off, there is a lot of space between the blades (the "electrons").

When a living organism slows down and dies... this is really a separate (but not entirely unrelated issue)... the matter making up the organism decomposes. Bacteria and Fungi, etc. feed off the dead tissue and the matter is re-cycled. The carbon and nitrogen (huge percentage) eventually becomes...

CARBON CYCLE
http://www.scienceclarified.com/Ca-Ch/Carbon-Cycle.html#b

NITROGEN CYCLE
http://www.reefscapes.net/articles/articles/2002/nitrogencycle.html



Jeech
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 8:01:12 PM
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Hi friends, I was away from any internet approach therefore couldn't have seen your interesting, knowledgable and great heartful posts.

My ten years old son asked me that question when we were watching TV togather. He asked me how wireless devises like TV remote controle and cell phone worked...

When it came to 'waves' my answer was that they are an other category of matter. And by reading whole the thread (though felt whoosh also sometimes) I guess I hit the right answer. And by simplyfying it, I can tell him that they are extremely low maliculic densty Matter, quite opposit than solid. Gas have some higher densitiy than waves, and liquid have higher dansity than Gas...
Is it correct simplification?

However, nothing can be simplified than the way M.S Behave did it.
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 10:04:13 PM

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Jeech,
I think you gave the perfect answer to your son.

RubyMoon,

Agree with you on the basics, and enjoyed the read on the C and N cycles. One thing struck me as I was reading them:

"There is no end to the nitrogen cycle;

Matter can neither be created or destroyed,

and nitrogen is no different. Instead,

nitrogen is continuously recycled from one

form to another."



So to take it one step further, how long can an atom continue to exist? The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons. The neutrons have both a positive and negative charge, and as I understand it, are composed of quarks, of which there are six: up, down, top, bottom, strange and charm (we have just reached the limit of my physics understanding).

So, the forces that hold the atom and its parts together can do so for how long? This is what I am pondering. What happens when they can no longer remain cohesive? If matter cannot be destroyed and is energy that has slowed down into a material state, then into what does it devolve? Or does it?
Is this recycling stage merely a stop on the way; a station on the long continuum of decay?

Of course, this is possible only if matter is indeed energy that has slowed down. It may be that matter is simply energy that has combined to form matter, and then simply breaks apart again, only to re-form into something else. In that case, energy, and all its various forms, is all that exists. Its fun to think about anyway.
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