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We can therefore say that gases have a variable shape.

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The shape of gases changes, depending on what they are in. Compressibility refers to whether a substance can be forced to occupy a smaller volume. Solids Imagine if you could change the shape of a solid by squishing it think of plasticine, for example. We can therefore say that solids have a fixed volume. In other words, solids cannot be compressed to take up less space. We can therefore say that liquids have a fixed volume.

In other words, liquids cannot be compressed to take up less space. If the gas bottle starts to leak, you will eventually smell the gas, regardless of where you are in the room. This is because the gas that escaped from the bottle has expanded to fill the room. This is the opposite process to that which took place when the gas was forced into the bottle when it was filled.

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We can therefore say that gases have a variable volume. In other words, gases can be compressed to take up less space. Imagine a block of concrete a solid , a bucket of water a liquid and a balloon representing the gas inside the balloon , all of which are the same size volume. The block of concrete and bucket of water would be quite heavy, but the balloon would be very light.

We can therefore say that the concrete and water have high density whereas the air has a very low density. The density of solids can vary. For example, most metals are much denser than ice.

A block of iron the same size as a block of ice would be almost eight times heavier. Some solids, such as styrofoam, may appear very light, but these mostly consist of pockets of air, which is a gas. Solids have a high density.

Correlation between Bonding and the Properties of Solids

Similar to solids, the density of liquids can vary, but not as widely. Liquids have a high density. Gases can have different densities, but all are very light compared to liquids and solids.


  1. Revision Notes for Class 11 Physics Chapter 9 - Mechanical Properties of Solids - Free PDF Download!
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Gases have a very low density. In most places, water exists as a liquid. For example, as rain, in rivers and oceans, and as groundwater. At the north and south poles, and in many mountainous regions, water exists as a solid , which we call ice.

Perhaps less obviously, water also exists in the air around us, as a gas , known as water vapour. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer. In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Help us improve our products. Sign up to take part. A Nature Research Journal. WHILE the specific heat, melting point and many other physical constants of a crystal are definite for any defined chemical composition, the mechanical strength may vary widely from specimen to specimen and depends markedly upon previous history.


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  • The existence of structure—sensitive properties in crystals shows that actual crystals cannot consist of atoms or molecules arranged in the perfect pattern contemplated by the mathematician nor can they be structures in thermodynamic equilibrium. If crystals were perfect they would all have the same properties if of the same material; similarly, if they were in thermodynamic equilibrium, they would eventually, from whatever arrangement they started, reach a final arrangement corresponding to the least free energy, and this arrangement, and consequently the mechanical properties, would always be the same.

    All crystals as usually dealt with must, then, be imperfect, although the possibility of preparing a perfect crystal must not be definitely excluded. See, for example, C. Elam, " Distortion of Metal Crystals ", Oxford, Download references. Reprints and Permissions. By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines.