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Matter, Mass, and Volume

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Matter: Mass & Volume

Can you guess what this colorful image shows? Believe it or not, it actually depicts individual atoms of iron (blue) on a surface of copper atoms (red). The image was created with an extremely powerful microscope, called a scanning tunneling microscope. This is the only type of microscope that can make images of things as small as atoms, the basic building blocks of matter.

What’s the Matter?

Matter is all the “stuff” that exists in the universe. Everything you can see and touch is made of matter, including you! The only things that aren’t matter are forms of energy, such as light and sound. In science, matter is defined as anything that has mass and volume. Mass and volume measure different aspects of matter.

Mass

Mass is a measure of the amount of matter in a substance or an object. 

Mass is commonly confused with weight. The two are closely related, but they measure different things. Whereas mass measures the amount of matter in an object, weight measures the force of gravity acting on an object. The force of gravity on an object depends on its mass but also on the strength of gravity. If the strength of gravity is held constant (as it is all over Earth), then an object with a greater mass also has a greater weight.

Volume

Volume is a measure of the amount of space that a substance or an object takes up. 

Summary

  • Matter is all the “stuff” that exists in the universe. It has both mass and volume.
  • Mass measures the amount of matter in a substance or an object.
  • Volume measures the amount of space that a substance or an object takes up.

Review Questions

  1. How do scientists define matter?
  2. What is mass and how is it different from weight?
  3. What does volume measure?

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