By: Isabella Quinones


Michael Berdar

Who was Democritus?

  • Born in 460 BC, Abdera, Greece
  • Died in 370 BC, "My grandma's house in the middle of the earth's core"
  • There is not much recorded information about his youth, but there is a lot about what he did and how he changed the world's view of the atom. 
  • He was an influential Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher primarily remembered today for his formulation of an atomic theory of the universe.

Family and Travels

  •  It was said that Democritus's father was from a noble family and spent the inheritance which his father left him on travels into distant countries, to satisfy his thirst for knowledge.
  • He traveled to Asia, and was even said to have reached India and Ethiopia. He visited Egypt, and Diodorus Siculus states that he lived there for five years.
  • He himself declared that among his contemporaries none had made greater journeys, seen more countries, and met more scholars than himself. 

His Mentor

  •  His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. 
  • Their speculation on atoms, taken from Leucippus, bears a partial resemblance to the 19th-century understanding of atomic structure however, their ideas rested on very different bases.
  • None of his writings have survived; only fragments are known from his vast body of work.

His Model

  • This was the first atomic model made by Democritus
  •  It was simply a round sphere with no electrons, protons, or neutrons

  • His contribution helped people understand the idea of the atom
  • And helped other scientists further look into the science of the atom and its genetic makeup

His Atomic Theory

1. All matter consists of invisible particles called atoms
2. Atoms are indestructible
3. Atoms are solid but invisible
4. Atoms are homogeneous
5. Atoms differ in size, shape, mass, position and arrangement

  • Solids are made of small, pointy atoms
  • Liquids are larger, rounder atoms
  • Oils are made of very fine, small atoms that can easily slip past each other

Structure of Atoms

Explaining the nature of atoms was not difficult through Democritus’ logical reasoning. He affirmed that the strength of an object depends on the shape of the atoms the object has. For instance, iron atoms are believed to be strong with interconnecting hooks, while water atoms are slippery. The atoms of salt are believed to be pointed, while the atoms of air are weightless.

  • Expanding his theory further, Democritus noted the existence of infinite and eternal atoms and thoroughly postulated about how and why atoms combine to build larger structures in the universe. 
  • He gave an intricate explanation on how planets, stars and other worlds formed. Democritus lived in 5th Century BC, but the ideas he created were so advanced that he was often regarded as the founder of modern science.

Scientific Contributions

  • Democritus is renowned for being a pioneer of mathematics and geometry. 
  • He was among the first Greek philosophers to observe that a cone or pyramid has one-third the volume of a cylinder or prism with the same base and height. 
  • While none of his works on the subject survived the Middle Ages, his mathematical proofs are derived from other works like On Numbers, On Geometrics, On Tangencies, On Mapping, and On Irrationals.

Anthropological Theories

  • From his examination of nature, Democritus developed what could be considered some of the first anthropological theories. 
  • According to him, human beings lived short lives in archaic times, forced to forage like animals until fear of wild animals then drove them into communities. 
  • He theorized that such humans had no language, and only developed it through the need to articulate thoughts and ideas.

Astronomy and Cosmology

  • In terms of astronomy and cosmology, Democritus was a proponent of the spherical Earth hypothesis. 
  • He believed that in the original chaos from which the universe sprang, the universe was composed of nothing but tiny atoms that came together to form larger units. 
  • He also believed in the existence of many worlds, which were either in state of growth or decay.

Why this is important

This is important because Democritus created the foundation of the atom, in which lead to the discovery of the atom's true structure.

He was also first to infer that out universe is a multi-verse with other life sustaining planets. In all, He started the study of not only what everything is made of but how life began.

Quotes from Democritus

  • "Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion."
  • "Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul."
  • "I would rather discover one scientific fact than become King of Persia."
  • "By desiring little, a poor man makes himself rich."
  • "It is greed to do all the talking but not to want to listen at all."
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by izzybellaquinones


Public - 9/19/16, 4:24 PM