Physical Science Mid-Term Study Vocabulary

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Vocabulary for chapters 1-5 for mid-term 2009-2010


the knowledge obtained by observing natural events and conditions in order to discover facts and formulate laws or principles that can be verified or tested


the application of science for practical purposes


a descriptive statement or equation that reliably predicts events under certain conditions


a system of ideas that explains many related observations and is supported by a large body of evidence acquired through scientific investigation

critical thinking

the ability and willingness to assess claims critically and to make judgments on the basis of objective and supported reasons

scientific methods

a series of steps followed to solve problems, including collecting data, formulating a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, and stating conclusions


a factor that changes in an experiment in order to test a hypothesis


a measure of the straight-line distance between two points


a measure of the amount of matter in an object


a measure of the size of a body or region in three-dimensional space


a measure of the gravitational force exerted on an object

scientific notation

a method of expressing a quantity as a number multiplied by 10 to the appropriate power


the exactness of a measurement

significant figure

a prescribed decimal place that determines the amount of rounding off to be done based on the precision of the measurement


a description of how close a measurement is to the true value of the quantity measured


anything that has mass and takes up space


a substance that cannot be separated or broken down into simpler substances by chemical means


smallest unit of an element that maintains the chemical properties of that element


a group of atoms that are held together by chemical forces; the smallest unit of matter that can exist by itself and retain all of a substance's chemical properties


a substance made up of atoms of two or more different elements joined by chemical bonds

pure substance

a sample of matter, either a single element or a single compound, that has definite chemical and physical properties


A combination of two or more substances that are not chemically combined

melting point

the temperature and pressure at which a solid becomes a liquid

boiling point

the temperature and pressure at which a liquid becomes a gas.


the ratio of the mass of a substance to the volume of the substance


the capacity of a substance to combine chemically with another substance

chemical change

a change that occurs when one or more substances change into entirely new substances with different properties


the change of state from a liquid to a gas


the process in which a solid changes directly into a gas


the change of state from a gas to a liquid


the amount of force exerted per unit area of a surface


the SI unit of pressure; equal to the force of 1 N exerted over an area of 1 m2

buoyant force

the upward force that keeps an object immersed in or floating on a liquid


the resistance of a gas or liquid to flow

gas laws

the laws that state the mathematical relationships between the volume, temperature, pressure and quantity of a gas


a subatomic particle that has a negative charge


an atom's central region which is made up of protons and neutrons


a subatomic particle that has a positive charge and that is located in the nucleus of an atom


a subatomic particle that has no charge and that is located in the nucleus of an atom

atomic number

the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom

mass number

the sum of the numbers of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom


an atom that has the same number of protons (or the same atomic number) as other atoms of the same element do but that has a different number of neutrons (and thus a different atomic mass)

unified atomic mass unit

a unit of mass that describes the mass of an atom or molecule; it is exactly 1/12 the mass of a carbon atom with mass number 12


the SI base unit used to measure the amount of a substance whose number of particles is the same as the number of atoms of carbon in exactly 12g of carbon-12


a region in an atom where there is a high probability of finding electrons

valence electron

an electron that is found in the outermost shell of an atom and that determines the atom's chemical properties


a unit or quantum of light

periodic law

law that states that the repeating chemical and physical properties of elements change periodically with the atomic numbers of the elements


a horizontal row of elements in the periodic table


a vertical column of elements in the periodic table; elements in this share chemical properties


an atom, radical, or molecule that has gained or lost one or more electrons and has a negative or positive charge


an element that is shiny and that conducts heat and electricity well


an element that conducts heat and electricity poorly


an element or compound that conducts electric current better than an insulator does, but not as well as a conductor does

alkali metal

one of the elements of group 1 of the periodic table

alkaline-earth metal

one of the elements of group 2 of the periodic table

transition metal

one of the metals that can use the inner shell before using the outer shell to bond

noble gas

one of the elements of group 18 of the periodic table


one of the elements of group 17 of the periodic table

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