"Each particle of matter is an immensity, each leaf a world, each insect an inexplicable compendium." -Johann Kaspar Lavater

Scientific disciplines can be difficult. There is usually lots of information to learn and complex problems to solve. From subjects like biology, chemistry and physics students love to skip over. But these subjects are vital for students to study and they can be enjoyable with the right understanding.

Physics is one of those subjects students may be unsure of enrolling in. Physics can seem like a lot of math which most students will shy away from, but if students had a clear guide to what they would learn in physics they may be more open to enrolling. We have a great series of articles talking about the syllabus of a high school physics class. Since physics is a broad subject each article talks about the different topics you'll discover. This article covers the Particle Model of Matter. You'll learn about the topics around particle matter. After reading these articles you can make an informed decision if physics is right for you.

Superprof is here to show pupils contemplating the High School Physics option what exactly is considered in the third topic of particle model of matter. Get ready for a wild ride aspiring scientists!

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Density of Materials

from ice cubes to water
Liquid, gas or solid are different states of matter that be observed when studying the density of materials. (Source: VectorStock)

 

Before getting started, we need to define the matter. The matter is made up of all small particles called atoms. Atoms are extremely small and can exist on their own or together as molecules. Humans are made up of matter meaning we are the result of countless atoms.

Density

To understand how matter is composed we need to comprehend what density is. Density can be summed up as follows: its the amount of mass per unit volume. Since all matter has particles, density is also used to describe how closely the particles are packed into a solid, liquid or gas. For example, solids are tightly packed into a regular structure. Liquids have a little bit more space to move due to the fact that they are still tightly packed but can move around each other. Gases have the most freedom since particles are spread out and move around randomly.

If you change the state of a matter the overall density will be transformed and be different from before.  Sometimes there is very little difference between a liquid and a solid. Take the example of water and ice, the particles are tightly packed in both states. It is important to note that density also depends on the material being used.

Since physics is a scientific discipline, density can be calculated in a logical way by using a simple equation:

density = \frac{mass}{volume}     p=\frac{m}{V}

(The above images are courtesy of bbc.com/bitesize/guides)

Density (p) is measured in kilograms per metre cubed, mass (m) is measured in kilograms and volume (V) is calculated in metres cubed. Although the general equation uses kilograms and metres, it is normal to find some scientists measuring with grams and centimetres.

Volume

In order to correctly calculate the density of an object, the volume of the material needs to be known. The volume of certain shapes such as the cube, sphere, cylinder and cone can be found using simple formulas. If the object has an irregular shape that cannot be measured mathematically, a displacement can must be used to determine the volume.

Required Practical

Physics can be an incredible hands-on subject. There are lots of fun experiments and practical assignments students will learn. Students studying physics in high school will have the task of investigating density in their required particles.  Your physics and maths tutor would be delighted to conduct such experiments with you!

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Temperature Changes and Energy

heat capacity
Brick has greater heat capacity than lead and many other elements. (Source: pixabay)

 

When looking at the matter, there are 3 states: solids, liquids and gases. Changes to any of these stats are caused by internal temperature.  Adding or removing energy from a material can cause its state to change. Some examples of this include the melting of ice (it went from a solid to a liquid) and the boiling of water (the liquid evaporates after constant contact with heat). Throughout all changes, the number of particles remains the same. The only things that differ are the spacing and the arrangement.

Internal Energy

Material that is heated or cooled there will be notable changes with the particles that can happen within the material. For instance, chemical bonds between the particles may break, form or stretch or the material will heat up or cool down as the particles gain or lose speed.  In layman's terms, the internal energy is the complete amount of kinetic energy and potential energy of all the different particles in the same system.  The conservation of energy signifies that any energy transferred to a material will be distributed between the chemical and thermal stores of the internal energy.

The Energy and the Temperature

Temperature can sometimes be confused with internal energy, but the reality is they are quite different. Internal energy is the measurement of all energy in the entire amount of particles in the object or substance. To understand internal energy think of a boiling pot of water. In a large pot of water, it will take longer to achieve boiling water than compared to a small pot. The reason behind this a small pot has a bigger rise in temperature because the same amount of energy has been given to a small number of particles.

Specific Heat Capacity

The change in temperature of a system depends highly on the mass of the material, the substance of the material and the amount of energy put into the system. Determining the specific heat capacity of a material is done by calculating the energy needed to raise one kilogram (kg) of the material by one degree Celsius (°C).  Calculating the amount of thermal energy that is stored or released as the temperature of a system changes can be done using a basic equation:

change in thermal energy = mass x specific heat capacity x temperature change or  \Delta E_{t} = m \times c \times \Delta \theta

Change in thermal energy is measured in joules, mass is calculated in kilograms, specific heat capacity is measured in joules per kilogram per degree Celsius and temperature change is measured in degrees Celsius.

Specific Latent Heat

The energy that is needed for a particular change in state is given by the specific latent heat. The simple definition of specific latent heat is the amount of energy necessitated to change the state of one kilogram of material without changing its temperature.

Since there are two boundaries of change, solid/liquid and liquid/gas each material have two specific latent heats:

  • Latent heat of fusion: the amount of energy needed to either freeze or melt the material at its melting point,
  • Latent heat of vaporization: the amount of heat required to change the unit mass of the substance from a liquid to a gas state.

Measuring latent heat can be done with the help of a cooling or heating curve line graph. The graph has two horizontal lines and they are utilized to identify the places where the energy is not being used. The longer the line, the more energy that was used to provoke the change of state. At times there may be something known as multiple changes and this occurs when the internal energy of a material will cause it to change both temperature and state. In this situation, both equations can be used.

Particles in Gases

Gases are scientifically proven to take up more space than solids or liquids and they move a lot faster in random directions. The speed of the particles is faster than those in liquids or solids and it does not take much time to spread out into the whole room or place. Since movements are very fast and random there are many collisions in gas particles.

Gas pressure can be calculated using a very simple equation:

pressure = \frac{force}{area}

(The image above is courtesy of bbc.com/bitesizes/guides)

The pressure (p) is measured in newtons per metre squared, force (F) is gauged in newtons and area (a) is calculated in metres squared.

Pressure and Temperature

The pressure of a gas increases as its temperature rises. The gas particles will be traveling faster and will collide with more force against the barriers of the container or vessel. When the temperature is higher, the average level of kinetic energy is elevated. Pressure is directly related to temperature when it comes to gas.

Pressure and Volume

In the past, scientists have discovered the correlation between pressure and volume. If the pressure is increased, the volume will decrease. An equation was developed to maintain a fixed mass of gas at a constant temperature:

p~V = constant

(The image used above is thanks to bbc.com/bitesizes/guides)

The pressure (p) in this equation is measured by using pascals and the volume (V) is calculated in metres cubed. 

If the temperature of the gas stays the same, the pressure of the gas increases as the volume of the vessel containing the gas decreases.  This can be better understood using the example of a helium balloon. If it is squeezed it will get smaller in size and this is a consequence of the fact that the same number of particles collide with the walls of the balloon at a more frequence pace since there is not as much room as before.

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Work and Energy

Pressure can be increased by either increasing the temperature or decreasing the volume. If the volume of the gas has decreased, the pressure will increase and this is due to the fact that the particles are moving about in a smaller container which causes them to collide more often. If there is an increase in the internal energy of the gas, the temperature must increase. This can be understood by studying a bicycle pump and how it gets warm when it is used to inflate a tire.

These equations above will take some time to learn and understand, but you will able to grasp them. If you are worried about working with equations in physics you can always hire a tutor. Superprof has 100s of physics tutors across Canada that are ready to work with you. They have the experience and knowledge to help you learn the best way possible. Superprof also offers lessons online and in-person giving you the freedom and flexibility to learn when you want to learn.

Studying Physics in High School

passing assessments
Not knowing what to expect on an examination can cause a lot of undue stress for students. (Source: pixabay)

Physics can be a great course to enroll in high school. Equations can be a worry for some students, but with a little studying and practice, students will be able to succeed. Students can even recall and apply questions that were learnt in previous physics courses. To further their understanding of physics

This third topic of the High School Physics Syllabus is varied and intriguing for students of all backgrounds. Knowing more about matter, density, temperature changes and the particles in gases can be useful information for everyday life.

Before choosing to study the High School Physics option it is recommended to know what the other topics are such as energy, electricity, atomic structure, forces, waves, magnetism and electromagnetism and space physics.

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Chester

You can usually find me writing at a cafe sipping on coffee or working out at the gym. I fell in love with writing a few years ago and have never looked back. I love being able to share my words with the world.