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Chemistry LibreTexts

Early Atomic Theory

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  • The concept of the atom (Greek: atomos, "indivisible"), an indivisible particle of matter, goes back to ancient Greece and a man named Democritus, a rival of Aristotle. Democritus held that all matter could be subdivided only until some finite particle was reached. Aristotle had a quite different idea, that matter was a continuous substance, not composed of any fundamental units. And Aristotle was much more famous and admired in his time and so his error persisted into the late 1700's. But eventually work by men such as Lavoisier began to suggest that Aristotle had been seriously wrong.

    Contributors and Attributions

    Stephen R. Marsden