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.


Actinium, symbol Ac, radioactive metallic element found in all uranium ores. The atomic number of actinium is 89; the element is in the actinide series of the periodic table.

Actinium was discovered in 1899 by the French chemist AndrĂ© Louis Debierne. The element is found in uranium ores to the extent of 2 parts to every 10 billion parts of uranium. Two naturally occurring isotopes of actinium are known. Actinium-227 is a member of the actinium series, called the actinium decay series, resulting from the radioactive decay of uranium-235 (see Radioactivity). It has a half-life of 21.8 years. The other isotope, actinium-228, is a member of the thorium series resulting from the decay of thorium-232. This isotope, known also as mesothorium-2, has a half-life of 6.13 hours. Isotopes ranging in mass number from 209 to 234 are known. Actinium melts at about 1050° C (about 1922° F), boils at about 3200° C (about 5792° F), and has a specific gravity of about 10.