Conservation of mass

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The law of conservation of mass states that mass can neither be created nor destroyed in a chemical reaction. Thus, the amount of matter cannot change. Antoine Lavoisier promoted this idea.

This law says that when a chemical reaction rearranges atoms into a new product, the mass of the reactants (chemicals before the chemical reaction) is the same as the mass of the products (the new chemicals made). More simply, whatever you do, you will still have the same amount of stuff.

Broader account: In any chemical reaction, nuclear reaction, or radioactive decay in an isolated system, the total mass of the starting materials must be equal to the mass of the products.

History[change | change source]

The principle of conservation of mass was first outlined by Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–1765) in 1748. He proved it by experiments—though this is sometimes challenged.[1] Antoine Lavoisier (1743–1794) had expressed these ideas in 1774. Others whose ideas pre-dated the work of Lavoisier include Joseph Black (1728–1799), Henry Cavendish (1731–1810), and Jean Rey (1583–1645).[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. *Pomper, Philip (1962). "Lomonosov and the discovery of the law of the conservation of matter in chemical transformations". Ambix 10 (3): 119–127. 
    Lomonosov, Mikhail Vasil’evich (1970). Mikhail Vasil’evich Lomonosov on the corpuscular theory. Henry M. Leicester (transl.). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Introduction, p. 25. 
  2. [1]. Whitaker, Robert D. 1975. Journal of Chemical Education, 52 (10) 658-659.