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History of Atomic Theory

modern atomic theory, pure element, Democritus, philosophical terms, Greek philosophers

Deeper web pages:

>  The Birth of the Modern Atomic Theory

>  Electrical Forces in Atoms

>  Rutherford's Nuclear Atom

>  The Bohr Model

>  Quantum Theory of Atoms

Beginning with Democritus, who lived during the late 5th and early 4th centuries bc, Greek philosophers developed a theory of matter that was not based on experimental evidence, but on their attempts to understand the universe in philosophical terms. According to this theory, all matter was composed of tiny, indivisible particles called atoms (from the Greek word atomos, meaning “indivisible”). If a sample of a pure element was divided into smaller and smaller parts, eventually a point would be reached at which no further cutting would be possible—this was the atom of that element, the smallest possible bit of that element.

According to the ancient Greeks, atoms were all made of the same basic material, but atoms of different elements had different sizes and shapes. The sizes, shapes, and arrangements of a material’s atoms determined the material’s properties. For example, the atoms of a fluid were smooth so that they could easily slide over one another, while the atoms of a solid were rough and jagged so that they could attach to one another. Other than the atoms, matter was empty space. Atoms and empty space were believed to be the ultimate reality.

Although the notion of atoms as tiny bits of elemental matter is consistent with modern atomic theory, the researchers of prior eras did not understand the nature of atoms or their interactions in materials. For centuries scientists did not have the methods or technology to test their theories about the basic structure of matter, so people accepted the ancient Greek view.



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modern atomic theory, pure element, Democritus, philosophical terms, Greek philosophers, ultimate reality, basic material, ancient Greeks, universe, theories, shapes, interactions, fluid, attempts, arrangements, Beginning, matter, properties, example, point, people, space, methods, sample, According, technology

 
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