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.


Corrosion, partial or complete wearing away, dissolving, or softening of any substance by chemical or electrochemical reaction with its environment. The term corrosion specifically applies to the gradual action of natural agents, such as air or salt water, on metals.

The most familiar example of corrosion is the rusting of iron, a complex chemical reaction in which the iron combines with both oxygen and water to form hydrated iron oxide. The oxide is a solid that retains the same general form as the metal from which it is formed but, porous and somewhat bulkier, is relatively weak and brittle.

Three methods may be used to prevent the rusting of iron: (1) alloying the iron so that it will be chemically resistant to corrosion; (2) coating it with a material that will react with the corroding substances more readily than the iron does and thus, while being consumed, protect the iron; and (3) covering it with an impermeable surface coating so that air and water cannot reach it. The alloying method is the most satisfactory but the most expensive. A good example is stainless steel, in which chromium or chromium and nickel are alloyed with the iron; this alloy is not only absolutely rustproof but will even resist the action of such corrosive chemicals as hot, concentrated nitric acid. The second method, protection with an active metal, is also satisfactory, but expensive. The most common example of this method is galvanizing, in which iron is covered with zinc. In the presence of corrosive solutions, an electric potential is set up between the iron and the zinc, causing the zinc to dissolve but protecting the iron as long as any zinc remains. The third method, protection by coating the surface with an impermeable layer, is the least expensive and therefore the most common. It is satisfactory as long as no crack appears in the coating. Once the coating cracks, however, rusting proceeds at least as fast as it would have with no protection. If the protective layer is an inactive metal, such as tin or chromium, an electric potential is set up, protecting the layer but acting on the iron and causing the rusting to proceed at an accelerated rate. The most satisfactory coatings are baked enamels; the least expensive are such paints as red lead.