Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.


Osmosis, in botany and chemistry, the flow of one constituent of a solution through a membrane while the other constituents are blocked and unable to pass through the membrane. Experimentation is necessary to determine which membranes permit selective flow, or osmosis, because not all membranes act in this way. Many membranes allow all or none of the constituents of a solution to pass through; only a few allow a selective flow. In classic demonstration of osmosis, a vertical tube containing a solution of sugar, with its lower end closed off by a semipermeable membrane, is placed in a container of water. As the water passes through the membrane into the tube, the level of sugar solution in the tube rises visibly. A semipermeable membrane that may be used for such a demonstration is the membrane found just inside the shell of an egg, that is, the film that keeps the white of the egg from direct contact with the shell. In this demonstration, the water moves in both directions through the membrane; the flow is greater from the vessel of pure water, however, because the concentration of water is greater there, that is, fewer dissolved substances exist in this solution than in the sugar solution. The level of liquid in the tube of sugar solution will eventually rise until the flow of water from the tube of sugar solution, under the influence of hydrostatic pressure, just equals the flow of water into the tube. Thereafter, no further rise in level will occur. The hydrostatic pressure establishing this equality of flow is called osmotic pressure. A variety of physical and chemical principles is involved in the phenomenon of osmosis in animals and plants.