Why is it important for scientists to know the properties of matter?

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It's important for scientists to know the properties of matter because all things are made up of matter. Each type of matter has different physical characteristics and scientists need to know and understand these characteristics to make calculations. For example, if a scientist would like to know the density of a certain type of matter, they would need to know the mass and the volume of that matter.

The main physical characteristics of matter are mass, volume, weight, density, odor, and color. These are the characteristics that help us to see matter, feel matter, and taste matter.

The main phases of matter are solid, liquid, and gas. Most matter is able to be all of these phases depending on their physical characteristics.

More importantly, scientists work with many different types of matter. It is important for them to know and understand the correct ways to handle and store types of matter. They also need to know if any types of matter will have a certain chemical reaction when mixed with other types of matter.

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A knowledge of properties of matter is important not only to scientists but engineers as well (and anybody who is working with matter). The properties on interest, typically, include melting point, boiling point, density, mass, volume, shape, electrical conductivity, heat conductivity, reactivity with other substances (including water, acids, bases, etc.). All applications of matter are dependent on their properties. Here are a few examples:

  • Storage and handling of matter requires a knowledge of its properties. Some materials can be stored at room temperature, while cannot be.
  • Cleanup and disposal of any accidental spill also requires a knowledge of its properties, such as reactivity  (esp. with water)
  • Any laboratory experimentation with the matter requires a knowledge of chemical reactivity and physical properties.
  • Knowledge of properties like malleability and ductility are needed when trying to make something out of a particular material. For example, gold can be used to make jewelry, copper can be used for making wires, etc.

Hope this helps.

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