Matter is commonly referred to as the substance of which physical objects are composed. In physics, it is everything that is constituted of elementary fermions. Philosophically, matter constitutes the formless substratum of all things, which exists only potentially and from which reality is produced. In the sense of content, matter is also used in contrast to form.
Matter in physics
Matter occupies space and has mass. It is composed predominantly of atoms, which consist of protons, neutrons, and electrons. All gauge bosons (of which the photon is one), which mediate the four fundamental forces, are not considered matter, even though they certainly have energy and some also mass.
Matter thus consists of quarks and leptons. There are six types of quarks (strange, charm, top, bottom, up, and down) which combine to form hadrons, primarily baryons and mesons, through the strong interaction and are actually thought to always be confined. Among the baryons are the proton and the neutron, which further combine to form the nuclei of all elements of the periodic table. Usually these nuclei are surrounded by a cloud of electrons. A nucleus with as many electrons as protons, which is thus electrically neutral, is called an atom, otherwise it is an ion. Chemistry is the science that studies how nuclei and electrons combine to form compounds.
In bulk, matter can exist in several different phases, according to particle density and energy density or alternatively pressure and temperature. These phases include gases, plasmas, liquids, fluids, superfluids, solids, and Bose-Einstein condensate. As circumstances change, matter may change from one phase into another. These phenomena are called phase transitions, and their energetics are studied in the field of thermodynamics. In small quantities, matter can exhibit properties that are entirely different from those of bulk material.
Matter constitutes the observable Universe. It can be converted to energy (see annihilation), and vice versa - can be created out of energy (see matter creation) and undergo other formations and alterations.
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