Democritus Atom Model | Explained

In democritus atom model, atoms exist not only in matter, but also in properties such as perception and the human soul.

 Democritus Atom Model 

You’ve probably heard about the Democritus atom model before, but might not have ever heard it explained in full detail. That’s what we’re going to do in this article—explain the Democritus Model in full detail and review what it says about the makeup of atoms . 

First, though, we need to explain who Democritus was and why his model has come to be so well-known.

What is the democritus atom model?

In democritus atom model, atoms exist not only in matter, but also in properties such as perception and the human soul. Differences in atomic shape and size determine different properties of matter. 

Changes in matter are the result of dissociation or combination of atoms as they move through the void.
democritus believed that atoms were uniform, solid, hard, uncompressible and indestructible and could move by an infinite number of empty spaces without stopping. 

Leucippus is often credited with being the first to develop the theory of atomism but Isaac Newton prefers to place the obscure Mochus, a Phoenician he believed to be biblical Moses, as the inventor of the theory above the authority of Posidonius and Strabo. 

Along with Democritus experiment, Leucippus and Epicurus proposed an early view of the shape and crosslinking of atoms.

What did Democritus discover?

In ancient Greece, there was a man named Democritus who proposed a very interesting idea: that matter was made up of small, indivisible particles called atoms. He proposed many other things as well (e.g., he was an early proponent of evolution) but these atomistic theories were generally ignored until much later (that is until Newton published his ideas). 

His atomic theory was largely forgotten in favor of Aristotle’s idea that everything we experience is made up of combinations of four basic elements: earth, air, fire and water. It would take another 2,000 years before modern physics would pick up where he left off with discoveries like Dalton’s laws and Bohr’s theory of atomic structure.

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democritus atom model

Democritus, a Greek philosopher who lived in the fifth century BC, theorized about atoms and the specific materials they are made of. In Dalton's Model of the Atoms (ESAOA), he suggested that all matter consists of small things he called atoms. We know that atoms consist of a positively charged nucleus in the center, surrounded by negatively charged electrons.

The idea of the atom was infected in the fifth century BC by two Greek philosophers, Democritus and Leukippus. The Greek word atomon (atoms) means "indivisible," and the two philosophers believed that atoms cannot be broken into small pieces. The concept of atoms, broadly accepted by Western scientists between the 16th and 19th centuries, was conceived by Greek philosophers in the 5th century BC.    

The first Proponents of Atomic Theory were the Greek philosophers Leucippus and Democritus, who proposed in the fifth century BC the following model : Modern atomic theory was first proposed in 1803 by the English chemist John Dalton , whose basic concept states that all elements consist of atoms. We define an atom as the smallest part of an element that maintains its identity.

  Atoms are particles that cannot be split into smaller particles, and they consist of various subatomic particles. Individual atoms are very small, and the largest atoms have an approximate diameter of about 5.4 x 10 x 10 m. To achieve this size, about 18 million atoms would have to be strung side by side, which corresponds to the width of the little finger (1 cm).

Democritus experiment

The theory of atoms and void works as such: all matter is composed of tiny, indivisible particles called atoms. These atoms are so small that they cannot be seen, even by our best technology. In addition to these atoms, there is an empty space called void or vacuum in which nothing exists. Two principles govern how these particles behave: firstly, that everything is made from a combination of atoms and void; secondly, that an atom will never disappear or appear from nowhere – although it may break into smaller pieces.


Through his Democritus experiment, observations, and the work of peers of his time, Democritus proposed a new theory of the atom. Dalton's atomic theory was accepted by the scientific community with the exception of three amendments. The Democrats "model bore little resemblance to modern atomic theory, since the atom is not inert and interacts, but it was more aligned with modern science than any other theory since antiquity.    

The existence of the atom is not only indispensable for modern molecular and atomic theory, but also provides an explanation for the concept of void, which is necessary for nature. Without a clear explanation, classical scholars arrived at the theory of the existence and existence of atoms, and this theory proved influential enough to be taken up by the Roman philosopher Lucretius in the 1st century AD, long before the scientific revolution.    

All matter consists of tiny, indivisible atoms, and there is much open space between them. There are infinitely many atoms of all kinds, and each atom differs in shape and size.    

He and his mentors Leucippus and Epicurus believed that the strength of a material corresponds to the shape of the atoms involved. He taught that there is a substance called an atom, and that it is the material of all things.    

There are an infinite number of atoms, and there are different types of atoms with different sizes and shapes. There is an emptiness, an empty space, in which atoms move and collide with each other. When atoms collide, one atom repels the other, and the atoms combine to form clusters held together by tiny hooks or barbs on the surface of the atoms.

Theophrastus gave us a thorough account of the Democritus atom model theory, but criticized it for fueling the expectation that the same kind of atoms would cause similar phenomena. It is interesting that although Democritus had a fundamental idea about the atom, he had no experimental evidence to support his thinking. We had to wait two thousand years for scientists to get as close to the atom as it did.    

One is that a certain substance, such as honey, is not homogeneous, but contains atoms of different shapes. Because most explanations that relate to the normal case, in which typical observers have different accounts, convey perception to atypical observers of such evils, Democritus's account of how honey tastes bitter to sick people depends on two factors that undermine the idea that certain atomic forms affect us in a certain way.    

A clear solution to explain how these indivisible properties can be conveyed in a way that is invisible for human sense is the hypothesis of existence of atoms. The atom is closer to man than the modern concept of a molecule, but it is also further removed from modern science.    

Lucretius makes reasonable arguments that cavities are necessary to explain how gases and liquids flow and change shape, and how metals can be shaped to change their basic material properties. Apart from these changes of location, atoms are immutable, ungenerated and indestructible. The atom (from the Greek adjectives atomos and atomon) is indivisible and has an infinite number of different sizes, shapes and solids with inner gaps.


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democritus atom model

Some 2,500 years ago, the early Greek philosophers believed that the entire universe was one giant entity. Then you learned that all matter in the universe consists of tiny building blocks called atoms.    

According to the materialistic philosophy of Epicurus, the entire universe consisted of atoms that were without God and subject to natural law. Leucippus of Miletus (5th century BC) is said to have founded atomic philosophy. His most famous disciple, Democritus of Abdera, called the building block of matter atomic (which means indivisible) in 430 BC.   


Why Was the Democritus Model Rejected? 

The Democritus atom model was the first atomic theory proposed in Ancient Greece. It held that everything was made of tiny, indivisible, and indestructible atoms. 

The Democritus atom model was rejected because it didn’t account for subjective value. The other main problem with his theory is that he believed everything could be explained through a scientific approach, which simply doesn’t work because science can only explain things in an objective manner. For example, science can tell us what humans look like and how they reproduce, but there’s no way to explain how someone feels about another person or even why two people feel differently about one another. It’s not possible to take all of these unique variables into account; therefore, subjective value is something that can never be fully quantified.

Today we know...

Today we know that atoms are made up of three types of subatomic particles: protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons (collectively called nucleons) each have a positive charge, while electrons have a negative charge. While modern science could not exist without Democritus' idea about atoms being indivisible, it is now known that most chemical reactions occur when an atom loses or gains one or more electrons. When an atom is neutral (no positive or negative charge), we call it a stable state; however, in order to achieve neutrality, many different atoms must give up electrons in order to balance out all charges on both sides of each reaction.


About the Author

Sarkun is a dedicated research student at one of India's premier institutions, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER). With over three years of experience in the realm of blogging, Sarkun's passion lies at the interse…

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