We explain to you what inert matter is, what are its characteristics and what is living matter. His relationship with living beings and examples.
What is inert matter?
When we talk about inert matter, we mean all bodies and substances that are not part of a living organism, that is, that are not inserted in some life cycle: to be born, grow, reproduce and die. In that sense, inert matter is opposed to living matter or living beings.
The world is composed of living beings and inanimate things, in various mechanisms of interaction. While the former have voluntary movement and require an internal balance to preserve their energy and continue to exist, inert matter is subject only to elementary physical forces and transformation processes (biol Logical or not), without any type of will, vital necessity or similar involved in it.
Inert matter is called that because it has no movement, no will, which demonstrates a passive existence in the universe, compared to the active living beings.
See also: Levels of Organization of Matter.
Characteristics of inert matter
Inert matter can be very diverse, since it is made up of all the elements and substances of the universe, provided that they are not configuring any structure of a living being. It is about things and substances whose existence is part of the backdrop on which life takes place. Even decomposed organic matter can be considered inert matter, once the life that animated it has been completely extinguished.
Living matter and inert matter
The boundaries between living and inert matter can be difficult to draw, although in day-to-day practice the difference between them is very clear. If we consider that our bodies are manufactured from the same atoms as a rock or that a piece of metal, only organized in a radically different way, it turns out that the difference between inert and living matter is a matter of perspective. For example, a fossil is considered inert matter because it has been dead for a long time, even though it was once living matter.
It is easier to differentiate the living from the inert on a daily basis, taking into account the behavior of things (in fact, if it has behavior, it is alive). But on the strictly physical or chemical level it is much harder to clarify. This is due to a certain mystery that still accompanies our considerations of life. For example, if we consider a body of a living human being and another body of a newly deceased human being. How do they differ from this perspective, if they are composed of the same atoms organized in an almost identical way?
Relationship between inert matter and living things
Living beings and inert matter are linked in different ways, such as:
- Nutrition. Although living beings are composed of organic matter, we must also consume certain inert matter, that is, specific elements that allow us to maintain homeostasis, that is, biochemical balance. For example, living beings cannot live without water, but this is not a living being.
- Biochemical Synthesis Living organisms not only absorb inert matter to nourish themselves, but they change the configuration of that matter through their metabolic processes. Thus, organisms can build organic molecules from scattered elements (as do plants with photosynthesis), altering the constitution of inert matter around them.
- Decomposition Life, however, always ends and the organic molecules that make up the body of living beings are broken down by the action of other organisms and natural elements, becoming substances again. Basic and eventually becoming inert matter.
Examples of inert matter
Examples of inert matter are very abundant in our daily lives . Stones, metals, concrete, plastic, oil, ceramics, glass, paper, all are forms of inert matter. So are the objects we manufacture with them: statues, pipes, buildings, toys, polyesters, cups, plates, glasses, mirrors, books and a huge etcetera.