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.


Ozone (Greek ozein, “to smell”), pale blue, highly poisonous gas with a strong odor. Ozone is considered a pollutant at ground level, but the ozone layer of the upper atmosphere protects life on Earth from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Ozone is one of three forms, called allotropes, of the element oxygen. Ozone is triatomic, meaning that it has three atoms in each molecule (formula O3). Ordinary, or diatomic, oxygen (O2) is more stable than ozone and accounts for the bulk of oxygen in the atmosphere. Electrical sparks and ultraviolet light can cause ordinary oxygen to form ozone. The presence of ozone sometimes causes a detectable odor near electrical outlets.


At normal temperatures and pressures ozone is a gas with a specific gravity of 2.144 (about 1.5 times the density of ordinary oxygen gas). Ozone accounts for only a tiny fraction of the atmosphere and is normally invisible, but high concentrations of ozone gas are pale blue. The gas condenses to a liquid at -111.9°C (-169.52°F) and freezes at -192.5°C (-314.5°F). Liquid ozone is deep blue, and is diamagnetic (repelled by magnetic fields). Solid ozone is dark purple. Ozone is much more active chemically than ordinary oxygen. It is used in purifying water, sterilizing air, and bleaching certain foods.

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