Democritus named the building block of matter atoms. He believed that atoms were uniform, solid, hard, incompressible, and indestructible.

Democritus named the building block of matter atoms which means “indivisible”. He believed that atoms were uniform, solid, hard, incompressible, and indestructible. The size and shape of an atom determine the properties of matter.

Who Was Democritus?

Democritus was born in Abdera, Thrace. There are disagreements regarding the exact year of birth, but it is probably around 460 BC.

Democritus is said to have been disliked by Plato and he wished all of his books burned. He was well known to his contemporary northern-born philosopher Aristotle. He was the teacher of Pythagoras.

Contributions of Democritus and Leucippus are difficult to disintegrate as they are often mentioned together.

Introduction to Democritus Atomic Theory

The Democritus Atomic Theory said that everything in this world is composed of “Atoms”. They are physically, but not geometrically, indivisible. Atoms are indestructible, there lies a space between them, they are infinite in numbers, they have always been and always will be in motion, and they vary in shape and size.

Shape and Connectivity of Atoms

Along with Leucippus and Epicurus, Democritus suggested the earliest views on the shapes and connectivity of atoms. They claimed that the solidness of the material depends on the shape of the atoms involved. Iron atoms are solid with hooks that lock them into a solid; water atoms are smooth and slippery; salt atoms, because of their taste, are sharp and pointed; and air atoms are light and whirling, pervading all other materials.

Democritus used the analogies of humans’ sense experiences to give a picture or an image of an atom that differentiated them from each other by their shape, their size, and the arrangement of their parts. 

Connections were defined by material links in which single atoms were supplied with attachments: some with hooks and eyes, others with balls and sockets. 

The Democritean atom is an inert solid (merely excluding other bodies from its volume) that interacts with other atoms mechanically. In contrast, modern, quantum-mechanical atoms interact via electric and magnetic force fields and are far from inert.

Classical Atomism

The theory of the atomists seems to be more nearly aligned with that of modern science than any other theory of antiquity. However, the similarity with modern concepts of science can be confusing when trying to understand where the hypothesis came from. Classical atomists could not have had an empirical basis for modern concepts of atoms and molecules.

However, Lucretius, describing atomism in his De rerum natura, gives very clear and effective empirical arguments for the original atomist theory. He observes that any material is subject to irreversible decay. 

Through time, even hard rocks are slowly worn down by drops of water. Things tend to get mixed up: Mix water with soil and mud will result, rarely decaying by itself. Wood decays. However, there are mechanisms in nature and technology to recreate “pure” materials like water, air, and metals. 

The conclusion is that many properties of materials must derive from something inside, that will itself never decay, something that holds for eternity the same inherent, indivisible properties. 

Indivisibility of Atom

Indivisible properties of an atom can be described in a way not easily visible to human senses is to hypothesize the existence of “atoms”. 

These classical “atoms” are nearer to humans’ modern concept of “molecule” than to the atoms of modern science. The other central point of classical atomism is that there must be considered open space between these “atoms”: the void. 

Lucretius gives reasonable arguments that the void is necessary to explain how gases and liquids can flow and change shape, while metals can be molded without their basic material properties changing.

The Atomic Philosophy is said to be originated by Leucippus of Miletus of 5th century BCE. Democritus of Abdera, the disciple of Leucippus of Miletus, further contributed to it.

Democritus named the building block of matter atoms which means “indivisible”. He believed that atoms were uniform, solid, hard, incompressible, and indestructible. The size and shape of an atom determine the properties of matter.

Who Was Democritus?

Democritus was born in Abdera, Thrace. There are disagreements regarding the exact year of birth, but it is probably around 460 BC.

Democritus is said to have been disliked by Plato and he wished all of his books burned. He was well known to his contemporary northern-born philosopher Aristotle. He was the teacher of Pythagoras.

Contributions of Democritus and Leucippus are difficult to disintegrate as they are often mentioned together.

Introduction to Democritus Atomic Theory

The Democritus Atomic Theory said that everything in this world is composed of “Atoms”. They are physically, but not geometrically, indivisible. Atoms are indestructible, there lies a space between them, they are infinite in numbers, they have always been and always will be in motion, and they vary in shape and size.

Shape and Connectivity of Atoms

Along with Leucippus and Epicurus, Democritus suggested the earliest views on the shapes and connectivity of atoms. They claimed that the solidness of the material depends on the shape of the atoms involved. Iron atoms are solid with hooks that lock them into a solid; water atoms are smooth and slippery; salt atoms, because of their taste, are sharp and pointed; and air atoms are light and whirling, pervading all other materials.

Democritus used the analogies of humans’ sense experiences to give a picture or an image of an atom that differentiated them from each other by their shape, their size, and the arrangement of their parts. 

Connections were defined by material links in which single atoms were supplied with attachments: some with hooks and eyes, others with balls and sockets. 

The Democritean atom is an inert solid (merely excluding other bodies from its volume) that interacts with other atoms mechanically. In contrast, modern, quantum-mechanical atoms interact via electric and magnetic force fields and are far from inert.

Classical Atomism

The theory of the atomists seems to be more nearly aligned with that of modern science than any other theory of antiquity. However, the similarity with modern concepts of science can be confusing when trying to understand where the hypothesis came from. Classical atomists could not have had an empirical basis for modern concepts of atoms and molecules.

However, Lucretius, describing atomism in his De rerum natura, gives very clear and effective empirical arguments for the original atomist theory. He observes that any material is subject to irreversible decay. 

Through time, even hard rocks are slowly worn down by drops of water. Things tend to get mixed up: Mix water with soil and mud will result, rarely decaying by itself. Wood decays. However, there are mechanisms in nature and technology to recreate “pure” materials like water, air, and metals. 

The conclusion is that many properties of materials must derive from something inside, that will itself never decay, something that holds for eternity the same inherent, indivisible properties. 

Indivisibility of Atom

Indivisible properties of an atom can be described in a way not easily visible to human senses is to hypothesize the existence of “atoms”. 

These classical “atoms” are nearer to humans’ modern concept of “molecule” than to the atoms of modern science. The other central point of classical atomism is that there must be considered open space between these “atoms”: the void. 

Lucretius gives reasonable arguments that the void is necessary to explain how gases and liquids can flow and change shape, while metals can be molded without their basic material properties changing.

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