|Who finally established that there are things
|Question Date: 2012-09-24|
Initially, Democritus, a Greek in ~400 B.C.
coined the term atomos (becoming atoms later) to
describe the "ultimate particle", or that it is
what makes up matter, and cannot be made of
smaller pieces. In that era however, they were
not able to perform the kind of experiments
needed to show evidence for their theories.
Essentially, John Dalton gave science his theory
of atoms from his publication "A New System of
Chemical Philosophy" in 1808, and used evidence
from observation to support his theory. I would
say most chemists would give the credit to
Dalton for establishing the characteristics
pertaining to atoms.
The idea of having "atoms", or really tiny
particles that make up everything, has been
around for at least a couple thousand years, and
is known to exist as early as ~600 BCE in Greek
and Indian philosophy. However, our modern
concept of atoms and matter really started at
the beginning of the 1800's with John Dalton,
who really came through with solid evidence that
matter was made of atoms, and explained why
reactions of elements always occur in fixed
ratios, and that atoms of different elements
could be combined together to make new
Scientific discoveries are inherently
continuous (our modern view of the atom is still
changing vis particle physics), but most would
probably pin the tail on Dalton. His experiments
demonstrated integer-ratio combinations of
elements into molecules, strongly suggestive of
what we think of as atoms today.
Hope this helps!
John Dalton sort of made it inescapable,
because elements react with each-other in
specific,quantized, ratios, which almost cinched
that there would be atoms. Dimitri Mendeleev
further drove the point home by working out
atomic numbers and placing elements in related
series. It was Avogadro who established how many
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