Atoms are particles in the makeup of the Universe. The word is derived from the Greek word “atomus” which means uncuttable or indivisible…”a” means “not” and “tomus” means “cut”. Atoms are almost clear in color. They are hard and cannot be divided or cut according to Democritus; however, this reasoning was dismissed in the late 1800s (see the explanation near the end of this post). Atoms were named by Democritus.

440px-Democritus2Democritus was born around 450BC and left the Earth around 90 years of age. He was born in ancient Anatolia in a Greek settlement now modern day Turkey. Reportedly he came from a noble wealthy family, and a Persian monarch gave his father, who marched for Persia in the Second Persian War, several Magi. Democritus was apparently instructed by these Magi (wise men) in astronomy and theology. The idea of atoms goes back to ancient Greece and this Greek philosopher.

Because of his wealth, Democritus was widely traveled and learned from many philosophers and scientists. Great scientists and thinkers would get together to discuss the Universe and Earth as expressed in the treatise “The Larger Spiritual Order & Universal Scheme of Things-Simplified”. At these meetings, for instance, Plato and Aristotle would also attack Democritus. Plato is also known to have been at a dinner party of his uncle and shared a story of Atlantis being sunk into the sea after a one-day catastophic rainfall. They all lived in the approximate age of 400BC. The study of atoms became the study of the Universe. They also philosophized on “truth”. Democritus not only perceived particles of matter as atoms, but that they also existed as “Soul” to him. He also perceived they were separated by “voids” in the Universe.

It was stated by Democritus that atoms were indestructible and always have been and always will be in motion. He also believed there are infinite numbers and kinds of atoms which differ in shape and are so small they cannot be seen by the naked eye. His theory on atoms was that  there was emptiness between atoms, and the Universe as composed of nothing but tiny atoms that came together to form larger units. He believed the existence of many worlds which were either in a state of growth or decay (exploding or imploding). Democritus is known as one of the founders of modern science because his methods and theories closely resemble those of modern astronomers and physicists. 

Greeks used mathematics and reason, not experiments, to describe atoms. Democritus was a pupil or disciple of Leucippus who was a Greek philosopher. Aristotle is known to have credited Leucippus with originating the theory of atomism; however, it is difficult to distinguish his contribution from that of his famous pupil Democritus. Leucippus originated the philosophy of particles but Democrtus worked on the project and named them atoms. These thinkers, with Democritus, believed that the solidity of a material corresponded to the shape of the atoms involved: that is, iron atoms are hard, water atoms are smooth and slippery, fire atoms are light and sharp, and air atoms are light and whirling. This reasoning was later elaborated by Renee Descartes and is a major example why Democritus is considered to be an early scientific thinker.

Democritus’ atomic theory can be summarized that the worlds were infinite, created, and perishable. However, nothing was created out of nothing, and that nothing was destroyed so as to become nothing…that the atoms were infinite both in magnitude and number, and were born about through the Universe in endless revolutions…and that, therefore, they produced all the combinations which are incapable of being affected or influenced by external circumstances and are unchangeable by reason of their solidity. These were the thoughts of Diogenes Laertius in “Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers”.

An atom is composed of tiny particles of neutrons, electrons, and protons. Protons and neutrons are in the center or nucleus and electrons fly around above in a small cloud. Human bodies are essentially made up of atoms consisting of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. Each cell is a small Universe.

Humanity’s understanding of the Universe has evolved over many thousands of years and has been the subject of ongoing discoveries. Almost a hundred years after Dalton argued for the existence of the indivisible atom, and at the same time as Einstein was providing a way to directly measure these atoms, Thomson and Rutherford discovered that the atom was NOT indivisible at all. Instead, it was made of even tinier bits.

Joseph John Rutherford discovered the negative charged particle electron and inner structure of atoms in 1897. He also examined the electromagnetic theory of light of James Clark Maxwell and introduced the concept of electromagnetic mass of a larger particle. Ernest Rutherford , a student of Thomson, found that the atom consists of mostly empty space with the center having a positive nucleus.

Dark Matter was discussed in the authors blog of 10/31/2010, Voids were discussed in a blog of 9/15/2015, and Atoms were discussed in a blog of 11/14/2015 under Superstring Theory. Scroll down to each of these dates on the website


I hope everyone shall enjoy the holiday season with blessings.         Shanti, Shanti, Shanti !!!!

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