Conservation of Matter

Everything in the world, in nature, in your home, in your city, everywhere, there are living and non-living things. All these things together make up the mass of the Earth. Mass is the quantity of matter determined by its weight. All living and non-living things contain matter. Isaac Newton, a famous physicist, discovered some basic principles related to energy, mass, and matter. One law that he put forward was the Law of Conservation of Mass or Matter.

In physics, mass is known to be in a closed system, which means there cannot be any exchange of matter with the surroundings. No form of matter can be transported or accepted inside the system. The law can be defined as the mass of substances in the system will remain constant, no matter what processes are acting inside the system. It is similar to the Law of Conservation of Energy, which means the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time.

In other words, whatever mass or energy that is contained in a closed system will not change. It will remain constant. Nothing can be added or removed from the closed system. The state of the matter can change, but not the amount or mass of matter, nor the potential energy that might be available.

It is a common consequence of the two laws, that both mass and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, they can only be transformed from one state to another. Mass in nature always stays constant but can be changed in different types of particles and phases of matter. The law is also applicable in chemical reactions that occur in closed systems. The mass of the reactants and products must be equal in closed systems.

There are many examples which can be used to explain the principle. One example is related to the burning of coal. There are new products that are formed when coal is burned such as soot, ashes, heat, and various types of gases. The mass of these new products is directly proportional to the raw material or the charcoal that was burned. The charcoal turns into all the products. However, there is a slight production of energy, when mass is transformed, in this case, being heat energy. The changes are very minor and cannot be easily detected so are not considered.

In a second example related to a very basic chemical reaction, a single molecule of hydrogen mixed with 1.5 molecules of molecules of oxygen, when heated, will produce one molecule of water or H20. The molecular weight of hydrogen is two and that of oxygen is eight, and when mixed together produces 10 units, which is also the molecular weight of the water molecule. The mass of molecules is kept constant in the products.

In summary, the law of the conservation of matter states that the matter can change its phase, such as from a solid to a gas or a liquid to a solid, but not the amount or mass of matter, nor the potential energy that might be available. The molecular weight of substances will also not change during chemical reactions between two different molecules.




A: Size
B: Weight
C: Material
D: Texture

A: Energy
B: Mass
C: Matter
D: All the above

A: Chemicals
B: Reactants
C: Phases of matter
D: Products

A: Physicist
B: Chemist
C: Astronomer
D: All the above

A: Replaced
B: Moved
C: Transformed
D: None of the above

A: 12
B: 4
C: 28
D: 16








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