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.


Polarization refers to the direction of the electric field in an electromagnetic wave. A wave whose electric field is oscillating in the vertical direction is said to be polarized in the vertical direction. The photons of such a wave would interact with matter differently than the photons of a wave polarized in the horizontal direction. The electric field in light waves from the Sun vibrates in all directions, so direct sunlight is called unpolarized. Sunlight reflected from a surface is partially polarized parallel to the surface. Polaroid sunglasses block light that is horizontally polarized and therefore reduce glare from sunlight reflecting off horizontal surfaces.