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.


Alabaster, varietal name applied to two different minerals. One, Oriental alabaster, was extensively used by the ancient Egyptians. It is a variety of calcite, with a hardness of 3; it is usually white and translucent, but is often banded with dark or colored streaks. The other mineral, true alabaster, is a variety of gypsum, usually snow-white in color with a uniform, fine grain. True alabaster is softer than Oriental alabaster; it has a hardness of 1.5 and is easily carved into intricate shapes. Deposits of fine gypsum alabaster are found in Italy, England, Iran, and Pakistan.