What is Matter?
Matter is all around you. Everything around you is matter. A person. An apple. A table. Water. Paper. The list goes on and on. Matter means anything that has mass and volume. But this opens doors to other questions. What is mass? What is volume?
Mass is the amount of matter (or “stuff”) inside of an object. Think of it this way. A balloon has very little mass. But a building has a lot of mass. Be careful though, there is a difference between mass and weight. Mass measures the “stuff” inside of an object. Weight refers to the measure of gravity’s pull on an object. In other words, it determines how heavy something is. This is why you would weigh much lighter on the moon because the moon has less gravity.
Volume refers to the amount of SPACE that something takes up. When we say something is big, small, tiny, long, all of these words describe something’s VOLUME. For example, a coin has a small volume because it takes up only a small amount of space. But, a textbook has a larger volume because it takes up a lot of space.
Different states of matter fill spaces in different ways. For example, water fills volume in a different way than a textbook does, right? So, what are the different states of matter?
There are three basic states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Solid is a state of matter that keeps its shape. Think about a textbook or a table. Liquid is a state of matter that takes the shape of its container. Think about water in a container. It takes the shape of the container, right? Gas is a state of matter that fills its container. Think about water vapor or steam or even air all around us. It doesn’t have a shape like water, but it fills the entire space around!
Let’s take water as an example. Water can be in solid form as an ice cube! Also, water can be in liquid form, which is what we are most used to seeing! But, water can also be seen in gas form, which you can see if you were to heat or boil water. The water evaporates and becomes water vapor, the gaseous form of water.
What is Genetics?
“Genetics is the science of studying how living things pass on certain characteristics to other generations.” Genetics is something we inherit from our previous generation and it is passed on for multiple generations. Is your hair curly or straight? Is your eye color brown or blue? Are you tall or short? The reason behind the answers to these questions is genetics! They have been passed on to you from your ancestors, which is why children in a family often look like one of the parents.
Although many people contributed to the discovery of DNA and starting the study of genetics, the first person credited with the discovery is Gregor Mendel. He conducted an experiment by crossing pea plants, short and tall to see what kind of children they would create to observe how their visible physical traits are passed down. At first, he guessed that by crossing a short and tall pea plant, he would get a blend of the two and would get the average height of the two plants. But, he discovered that two genes were given to the offspring and that the offspring were all, therefore establishing dominant and recessive genes.
Dominant genes are those that can mask another gene if paired with a recessive gene because they are “dominant.” Therefore, since the tall plants were dominant and the short plants were recessive, it made sense that all the offspring were dominant. The offspring created by the cross of these tall and short plants are called the F1 offspring or first-generation offspring.
Another cool fact about dominant genes is that even if they are paired with a recessive, an organisms’ physical and visible traits would be that of dominant genes. When a dominant gene is paired with a recessive gene, it is called heterozygous because it is a mix of two different genes. Contrastingly, if a dominant gene is paired with another dominant gene or a recessive gene is paired with another recessive gene then it is called homozygous because they are two of the same types of genes.
Interested in learning more about genetics and how passing on traits works? Check this out: https://www.neok12.com/Genetics.htm
Navya Ramakrishnan, Aishwarya Sudarshan, Snaeha Shriram, Ananya Muralikumar