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Atoms and molecules are the smallest forms of matter typically encountered under normal conditions and are in that sense the basic building blocks of the material world. There are phenomena, such as lightning and electric discharges of other kinds, that allow free electrons to be observed, but these are exceptional occurrences. It is of course in its gaseous state that matter is encountered at its atomic or molecular level; in gases each molecule is an independent entity, only occasionally and briefly colliding with another molecule or with a confining wall.