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Chapter 3

What’s the Matter? icon

How can we build a planet with its millions of different kinds of things from just 92 bags of stuff? Chapter 3 guides you from ancient Greek ideas to the modern understanding of elements, atoms, and subatomic particles.


  • Exploring Systems
    This exercise provides experience in thinking about, discussing, and analyzing systems. We use three systems questions: What are the parts of the system? How does the system function as a whole? How is the system part of larger systems?


  • Chemical Reactions Preview   DVD icon
    Preview a clip from the chemical reactions experiment on the Dr. Art Does Science DVD.
  • Electrolysis Video Preview   DVD icon
    Preview a clip from the electrolysis experiment on the Dr. Art Does Science DVD.
  • Elements Song   DVD icon
    An animated version of Tom Lehrer?s Elements song.
  • Why Matter Is Hard
    We learn that the atom is mostly empty space. Yet, we experience that matter is hard. Dr. Art discusses this question in the book, and this video also provides an explanation.


Just Kidding

Dr. Artostotle, page 29
There was no Greek philosopher named Dr. Artostotle. The closest was a philosopher named Aristotle, who had many science ideas, but he rarely did experiments, and he certainly did not do the experiment described on page 29.

Waving Electrons, page 40
Despite what I wrote on page 40, electrons do not wave for the home team. Electrons are too small to root for sports teams. This is also a science ?in joke.? Subatomic particles such as the electron have the properties of both waves and particles. A wave is spread out in space. A particle occupies a very definite point in space. Since these two things seem to be opposites, physicists in the early 1900s went crazy trying to figure out what an electron is.