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Q & A: Is length a property of matter?

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Most recent answer: 02/05/2019
Q:
Hi! Is length a property of matter? My science teacher says it isn�t, but lots of science websites I�m reading say it is. Confused! Thanks!
- Toby (age 12)
Vancouver
A:

I'm not really sure what either your teacher or the websites are saying. When we describe material objects on a large scale (tables, people,...) it makes sense to give distances between different parts of the object, and we can call the longest such distance the length. Perhaps what your teacher is thinking is that the length of an object depends on the relative velocity of the object and the observer, as described by Special Relativity. Or perhaps he or she is thinking about how fuzzy the idea of length becomes when for objects so small that we need quantum mechanical descriptions.

Mike W.


(published on 02/05/2019)

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