ATOMISM (from Greek ἄτομον, atomon, i.e. "uncuttable",
"indivisible" ) is a natural philosophy that developed in several
ancient traditions. The atomists theorized that nature consists of two
fundamental principles: atom and void. Unlike their modern scientific
namesake in atomic theory , philosophical atoms come in an infinite
variety of shapes and sizes, each indestructible, immutable and
surrounded by a void where they collide with the others or hook
together forming a cluster. Clusters of different shapes,
arrangements, and positions give rise to the various macroscopic
substances in the world.
References to the concept of atomism and its atoms are found in
India and ancient Greece . In the West, atomism emerged in the
5th century BCE with
Democritus . In
Carvaka schools of atomism may date back to the 4th
century BCE. The
Vaisheshika schools later developed
theories on how atoms combined into more complex objects.
The particles of chemical matter for which chemists and other natural
philosophers of the early 19th century found experimental evidence
were thought to be indivisible, and therefore were given the name
"atom", long used by the atomist philosophy.
However, in the 20th century, the "atoms" of the chemists were found
to be composed of even smaller entities: electrons , neutrons and
protons , and further experiments showed that protons and neutrons are
made of quarks . Although the connection to historical atomism is at
best tenuous, elementary particles have thus become a modern analog of
philosophical atoms, despite the misnomer in chemistry.
* 2 Greek atomism
* 2.1 Geometry and atoms
* 2.2 The rejection of atoms
* 2.3 Later ancient atomism
Atomism and ethics
* 3 Indian atomism
* 3.1 Nyaya–
* 3.3 Jaina school
* 4 Islamic atomism
* 5 Medieval European speculations
* 5.1 Scholastic minima naturalia
* 6 Atomic renaissance
Atomic theory controversy
* 8 See also
* 9 Notes
* 10 References
* 11 External links
Philosophical atomism is a reductive argument: not only that
everything is composed of atoms and void, but that nothing they
compose really exists: the only things that really exist are atoms
ricocheting off each other mechanistically in an otherwise empty void.
Atomism stands in contrast to a substance theory wherein a prime
material continuum remains qualitatively invariant under division (for
example, the ratio of the four classical elements would be the same in
any portion of a homogeneous material).
Indian Buddhists , such as
Dharmakirti and others, also developed
distinctive theories of atomism, for example, involving momentary
(instantaneous) atoms, that flash in and out of existence (
In the 5th century BCE,
Leucippus and his pupil
that all matter was composed of small indivisible particles called
atoms, in order to reconcile two conflicting schools of thought on the
nature of reality. On one side was
Heraclitus , who believed that
the nature of all existence is change. On the other side was
Parmenides , who believed instead that all change is illusion.
Parmenides denied the existence of motion, change and void. He
believed all existence to be a single, all-encompassing and unchanging
mass (a concept known as monism ), and that change and motion were
mere illusions. This conclusion, as well as the reasoning that led to
it, may indeed seem baffling to the modern empirical mind, but
Parmenides explicitly rejected sensory experience as the path to an
understanding of the universe, and instead used purely abstract
reasoning. Firstly, he believed there is no such thing as void,
equating it with non-being (i.e. "if the void IS, then it is not
nothing; therefore it is not the void"). This in turn meant that
motion is impossible, because there is no void to move into. He
also wrote all that is must be an indivisible unity, for if it were
manifold, then there would have to be a void that could divide it (and
he did not believe the void exists). Finally, he stated that the all
encompassing Unity is unchanging, for the Unity already encompasses
all that is and can be.
Democritus accepted most of Parmenides' arguments, except for the
idea that change is an illusion. He believed change was real, and if
it was not then at least the illusion had to be explained. He thus
supported the concept of void, and stated that the universe is made up
of many Parmenidean entities that move around in the void. The void
is infinite and provides the space in which the atoms can pack or
scatter differently. The different possible packings and scatterings
within the void make up the shifting outlines and bulk of the objects
that organisms feel, see, eat, hear, smell, and taste. While organisms
may feel hot or cold, hot and cold actually have no real existence.
They are simply sensations produced in organisms by the different
packings and scatterings of the atoms in the void that compose the
object that organisms sense as being "hot" or "cold".
The work of
Democritus only survives in secondhand reports, some of
which are unreliable or conflicting. Much of the best evidence of
Democritus' theory of atomism is reported by
Aristotle in his
discussions of Democritus' and Plato's contrasting views on the types
of indivisibles composing the natural world.
GEOMETRY AND ATOMS
NUMBER OF FACES
NUMBER OF TRIANGLES
GEOMETRICAL SIMPLE BODIES ACCORDING TO PLATO
Plato (c. 427 — c. 347 BCE), if he had been familiar with the
atomism of Democritus, would have objected to its mechanistic
materialism . He argued that atoms just crashing into other atoms
could never produce the beauty and form of the world. In Plato's
Timaeus, (28B – 29A) the character of Timeaus insisted that the
cosmos was not eternal but was created, although its creator framed it
after an eternal, unchanging model.
One part of that creation were the four simple bodies of fire, air,
water, and earth. But
Plato did not consider these corpuscles to be
the most basic level of reality, for in his view they were made up of
an unchanging level of reality, which was mathematical. These simple
bodies were geometric solids , the faces of which were, in turn, made
up of triangles. The square faces of the cube were each made up of
four isosceles right-angled triangles and the triangular faces of the
tetrahedron, octahedron, and icosahedron were each made up of six
He postulated the geometric structure of the simple bodies of the
four elements as summarized in the adjacent table. The cube, with its
flat base and stability, was assigned to earth; the tetrahedron was
assigned to fire because its penetrating points and sharp edges made
it mobile. The points and edges of the octahedron and icosahedron were
blunter and so these less mobile bodies were assigned to air and
water. Since the simple bodies could be decomposed into triangles, and
the triangles reassembled into atoms of different elements, Plato's
model offered a plausible account of changes among the primary
THE REJECTION OF ATOMS
Sometime before 330 BCE
Aristotle asserted that the elements of fire,
air, earth, and water were not made of atoms, but were continuous.
Aristotle considered the existence of a void, which was required by
atomic theories, to violate physical principles. Change took place not
by the rearrangement of atoms to make new structures, but by
transformation of matter from what it was in potential to a new
actuality . A piece of wet clay, when acted upon by a potter, takes on
its potential to be an actual drinking mug.
Aristotle has often been
criticized for rejecting atomism, but in ancient Greece the atomic
Democritus remained "pure speculations, incapable of being
put to any experimental test. Granted that atomism was, in the long
run, to prove far more fruitful than any qualitative theory of matter,
in the short run the theory that
Aristotle proposed must have seemed
in some respects more promising".
LATER ANCIENT ATOMISM
Epicurus (341–270 BCE) studied atomism with
Nausiphanes who had
been a student of Democritus. Although
Epicurus was certain of the
existence of atoms and the void, he was less sure we could adequately
explain specific natural phenomena such as earthquakes, lightning,
comets, or the phases of the Moon (Lloyd 1973, 25–6). Few of
Epicurus' writings survive and those that do reflect his interest in
applying Democritus' theories to assist people in taking
responsibility for themselves and for their own happiness—since he
held there are no gods around that can help them. He understood gods'
role as moral ideals.
His ideas are also represented in the works of his follower Lucretius
, who wrote
On the Nature of Things
On the Nature of Things . This scientific work in poetic
form illustrates several segments of
Epicurean theory on how the
universe came into its current stage and it shows that the phenomena
we perceive are actually composite forms. The atoms and the void are
eternal and in constant motion. Atomic collisions create objects,
which are still composed of the same eternal atoms whose motion for a
while is incorporated into the created entity. Human sensations and
meteorological phenomena are also explained by
Lucretius in terms of
ATOMISM AND ETHICS
Some later philosophers attributed the idea, that man created gods
and the gods did not create man, to Democritus. For example, Sextus
Empiricus noted: Some people think that we arrived at the idea of
gods from the remarkable things that happen in the world. Democritus
... says that the people of ancient times were frightened by
happenings in the heavens such as thunder, lightning, ..., and thought
that they were caused by gods.
Three hundred years after Epicurus,
Lucretius in his epic poem On the
Nature of Things would depict him as the hero who crushed the monster
Religion through educating the people in what was possible in the
atoms and what was not possible in the atoms. However, Epicurus
expressed a non-aggressive attitude characterized by his statement:
"The man who best knows how to meet external threats makes into one
family all the creatures he can; and those he can not, he at any rate
does not treat as aliens; and where he finds even this impossible, he
avoids all dealings, and, so far as is advantageous, excludes them
from his life."
Will Durant wrote in Our Oriental Heritage:
"Two systems of Indian thought propound physical theories
suggestively similar to those of Greece . Kanada , founder of the
Vaisheshika philosophy, held that the world was composed of atoms as
many in kind as the various elements. The Jains more nearly
Democritus by teaching that all atoms were of the same
kind, producing different effects by diverse modes of combinations.
Kanada believed light and heat to be varieties of the same substance;
Udayana taught that all heat comes from the sun; and Vachaspati , like
Newton, interpreted light as composed of minute particles emitted by
substances and striking the eye."
Indian atomism in the
Middle Ages was still mostly philosophical
and/or religious in intent, though it was also scientific. Because the
Vedas ", the oldest Hindu texts, do not mention atoms
(though they do mention elements), atomism was not orthodox in many
schools of Hindu philosophy, although accommodationist interpretations
or assumptions of lost text justified the use of atomism for
non-orthodox schools of Hindu thought. The
Buddhist and Jaina schools,
however, were more willing to accept the ideas of atomism.
Vaisesika school developed one of the earliest forms of
atomism; scholars date the
Vaisesika texts from the 6th to
1st centuries BC. Like the
Buddhist atomists, the
Vaisesika had a
pseudo-Aristotelian theory of atomism. They posited the four elemental
atom types, but in
Vaisesika physics atoms had 24 different possible
qualities, divided between general extensive properties and specific
(intensive) properties. Like the Jaina school, the Nyaya–Vaisesika
atomists had elaborate theories of how atoms combine. In both Jaina
Vaisesika atomism, atoms first combine in pairs (dyads), and then
group into trios of pairs (triads), which are the smallest visible
units of matter.
Buddhist atomists had very qualitative, Aristotelian-style atomic
theory. According to ancient
Buddhist atomism, which probably began
developing before the 4th century BCE, there are four kinds of atoms,
corresponding to the standard elements. Each of these elements has a
specific property, such as solidity or motion, and performs a specific
function in mixtures, such as providing support or causing growth.
Like the Hindu Jains, the Buddhists were able to integrate a theory of
atomism with their theological presuppositions. Later Indian Buddhist
philosophers, such as
Dignāga , considered atoms to
be point-sized, durationless, and made of energy.
Jain cosmology ,
Dravya (Jainism) , and
The most elaborate and well-preserved Indian theory of atomism comes
from the philosophy of the Jaina school, dating back to at least the
6th century BC. Some of the
Jain texts that refer to matter and atoms
Pancastikayasara , Kalpasutra ,
Tattvarthasutra and Pannavana
Suttam. The Jains envisioned the world as consisting wholly of atoms,
except for souls. Paramāņus or atoms were considered as the basic
building blocks of all matter. Their concept of atoms was very similar
to classical atomism, differing primarily in the specific properties
of atoms. Each atom, according to
Jain philosophy , has one kind of
taste, one smell, one color, and two kinds of touch, though it is
unclear what was meant by "kind of touch". Atoms can exist in one of
two states: subtle, in which case they can fit in infinitesimally
small spaces, and gross, in which case they have extension and occupy
a finite space. Certain characteristics of Paramāņu correspond with
that sub-atomic particles. For example, Paramāņu is characterized by
continuous motion either in a straight line or in case of attractions
from other Paramāņus, it follows a curved path. This corresponds
with the description of orbit of electrons across the Nucleus.
Ultimate particles are also described as particles with positive
(Snigdha i.e. smooth charge) and negative (Rūksa – rough) charges
that provide them the binding force. Although atoms are made of the
same basic substance, they can combine based on their eternal
properties to produce any of six "aggregates", which seem to
correspond with the Greek concept of "elements": earth, water, shadow,
sense objects, karmic matter, and unfit matter. To the Jains, karma
was real, but was a naturalistic, mechanistic phenomenon caused by
buildups of subtle karmic matter within the soul. They also had
detailed theories of how atoms could combine, react, vibrate, move,
and perform other actions, all of which were thoroughly deterministic.
See also: Early Islamic philosophy:
Alchemy and chemistry
in medieval Islam
Atomistic philosophies are found very early in
Islamic philosophy and
was influenced by earlier Greek and to some extent Indian philosophy.
Like both the Greek and Indian versions, Islamic atomism was a
charged topic that had the potential for conflict with the prevalent
religious orthodoxy, but it was instead more often favoured by
orthodox Islamic theologians . It was such a fertile and flexible idea
that, as in Greece and India, it flourished in some leading schools of
See also: Ash\'ari
The most successful form of Islamic atomism was in the Asharite
Islamic theology , most notably in the work of the
theologian al-Ghazali (1058–1111). In
Asharite atomism, atoms are
the only perpetual, material things in existence, and all else in the
world is "accidental" meaning something that lasts for only an
instant. Nothing accidental can be the cause of anything else, except
perception, as it exists for a moment. Contingent events are not
subject to natural physical causes, but are the direct result of God's
constant intervention, without which nothing could happen. Thus nature
is completely dependent on God, which meshes with other Asharite
Islamic ideas on causation, or the lack thereof (Gardet 2001).
Al-Ghazali also used the theory to support his theory of occasionalism
. In a sense, the
Asharite theory of atomism has far more in common
with Indian atomism than it does with Greek atomism.
Other traditions in Islam rejected the atomism of the Asharites and
expounded on many Greek texts, especially those of Aristotle. An
active school of philosophers in Al-Andalus, including the noted
Averroes (1126–1198 CE) explicitly rejected the thought
of al-Ghazali and turned to an extensive evaluation of the thought of
Averroes commented in detail on most of the works of
Aristotle and his commentaries did much to guide the interpretation of
Aristotle in later Jewish and Christian scholastic thought.
MEDIEVAL EUROPEAN SPECULATIONS
While Aristotelian philosophy eclipsed the importance of the atomists
in late Roman and medieval Europe, their work was still preserved and
exposited through commentaries on the works of Aristotle. In the 2nd
Galen (AD 129–216) presented extensive discussions of the
Greek atomists, especially Epicurus, in his
According to historian of atomism Joshua Gregory, there was no serious
work done with atomism from the time of
Galen until Gassendi and
Descartes resurrected it in the 17th century; "the gap between these
two 'modern naturalists' and the ancient Atomists marked "the exile of
the atom" and "it is universally admitted that the
Middle Ages had
abandoned Atomism, and virtually lost it."
However, although the ancient atomists' works were unavailable,
Scholastic thinkers still had Aristotle's critiques of atomism. In the
medieval universities there were expressions of atomism. For example,
in the 14th century
Nicholas of Autrecourt considered that matter,
space, and time were all made up of indivisible atoms, points, and
instants and that all generation and corruption took place by the
rearrangement of material atoms. The similarities of his ideas with
those of al-Ghazali suggest that Nicholas may have been familiar with
Ghazali's work, perhaps through
Averroes ' refutation of it (Marmara,
SCHOLASTIC MINIMA NATURALIA
Although the atomism of
Epicurus had fallen out of favor in the
Scholasticism , a related Aristotelian concept, that of
minima naturalia (natural minima) received extensive consideration.
Minima naturalia were theorized by
Aristotle as the smallest parts
into which a homogeneous natural substance (e.g., flesh, bone, or
wood) could be divided and still retain its essential character.
Speculation on minima naturalia provided philosophical background for
the mechanistic philosophy of early modern thinkers such as Descartes,
and for the alchemical works of Geber and
Daniel Sennert , who in turn
influenced the corpuscularian alchemist
Robert Boyle , one of the
founders of modern chemistry.
Unlike the atomism of
Democritus , and
Epicurus , and
also unlike the later atomic theory of
John Dalton , the Aristotelian
natural minimum was not conceptualized as physically
indivisible--"atomic" in the contemporary sense. Instead, the concept
was rooted in Aristotle's hylomorphic worldview, which held that every
physical thing is a compound of matter (Greek hyle) and an immaterial
substantial form (Greek morphe) that imparts its essential nature and
structure. For instance, a rubber ball for a hylomorphist like
Aristotle would be rubber (matter) structured by spherical shape
Aristotle's intuition was that there is some smallest size beyond
which matter could no longer be structured as flesh, or bone, or wood,
or some other such organic substance that for Aristotle, living before
the microscope, could be considered homogeneous. For instance, if
flesh were divided beyond its natural minimum, what would be left
might be a large amount of the element water, and smaller amounts of
the other elements. But whatever water or other elements were left,
they would no longer have the "nature" of flesh: in hylomorphic terms,
they would no longer be matter structured by the form of flesh;
instead the remaining water, e.g., would be matter structured by the
form of water, not the form of flesh. This is suggestive of modern
chemistry, in which, e.g., a bar of gold can be continually divided
until one has a single atom of gold, but further division yields only
subatomic particles (electrons, quarks, etc.) which are no longer
"gold." However, the parallel is not exact: minima naturalia are not a
direct anticipation of modern chemical and physical concepts.
A chief theme in late Roman and Scholastic commentary on this concept
is reconciling minima naturalia with the general Aristotelian
principle of infinite divisibility. Commentators like John Philoponus
Thomas Aquinas reconciled these aspects of Aristotle's thought by
distinguishing between mathematical and "natural" divisibility. With
few exceptions, much of the curriculum in the universities of Europe
was based on such Aristotelianism for most of the
Middle Ages (Kargon
Scholasticism was standard science in the time of Isaac Newton
, but in the 17th century, a renewed interest in
Epicurean atomism and
corpuscularianism as a hybrid or an alternative to Aristotelian
physics had begun to mount outside the classroom.
The main figures in the rebirth of atomism were René
Pierre Gassendi , and
Robert Boyle , as well as other notable figures.
One of the first groups of atomists in England was a cadre of amateur
scientists known as the Northumberland circle, led by Henry Percy, 9th
Earl of Northumberland (1564–1632). Although they published little
of account, they helped to disseminate atomistic ideas among the
burgeoning scientific culture of England, and may have been
particularly influential to
Francis Bacon , who became an atomist
around 1605, though he later rejected some of the claims of atomism.
Though they revived the classical form of atomism, this group was
among the scientific avant-garde: the Northumberland circle contained
nearly half of the confirmed Copernicans prior to 1610 (the year of
Galileo's The Starry Messenger ). Other influential atomists of late
16th and early 17th centuries include
Giordano Bruno , Thomas Hobbes
(who also changed his stance on atomism late in his career), and
Thomas Hariot . A number of different atomistic theories were
blossoming in France at this time, as well (Clericuzio 2000).
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) was an advocate of atomism in his 1612,
Discourse on Floating Bodies (Redondi 1969). In
The Assayer , Galileo
offered a more complete physical system based on a corpuscular theory
of matter, in which all phenomena—with the exception of sound—are
produced by "matter in motion". Galileo identified some basic problems
Aristotelian physics through his experiments. He utilized a
theory of atomism as a partial replacement, but he was never
unequivocally committed to it. For example, his experiments with
falling bodies and inclined planes led him to the concepts of circular
inertial motion and accelerating free-fall. The current Aristotelian
theories of impetus and terrestrial motion were inadequate to explain
these. While atomism did not explain the law of fall either, it was a
more promising framework in which to develop an explanation because
motion was conserved in ancient atomism (unlike Aristotelian physics).
Descartes ' (1596–1650) "mechanical" philosophy of
corpuscularism had much in common with atomism, and is considered, in
some senses, to be a different version of it.
everything physical in the universe to be made of tiny vortices of
matter. Like the ancient atomists,
Descartes claimed that sensations,
such as taste or temperature, are caused by the shape and size of tiny
pieces of matter. The main difference between atomism and Descartes'
concept was the existence of the void. For him, there could be no
vacuum, and all matter was constantly swirling to prevent a void as
corpuscles moved through other matter. Another key distinction between
Descartes' view and classical atomism is the mind/body duality of
Descartes, which allowed for an independent realm of existence for
thought, soul, and most importantly, God. Gassendi's concept was
closer to classical atomism, but with no atheistic overtone.
Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) was a Catholic priest from France who
was also an avid natural philosopher. He was particularly intrigued by
the Greek atomists, so he set out to "purify" atomism from its
heretical and atheistic philosophical conclusions (Dijksterhius 1969).
Gassendi formulated his atomistic conception of mechanical philosophy
partly in response to Descartes; he particularly opposed Descartes'
reductionist view that only purely mechanical explanations of physics
are valid, as well as the application of geometry to the whole of
physics (Clericuzio 2000).
Corpuscularianism is similar to atomism, except that where atoms were
supposed to be indivisible, corpuscles could in principle be divided.
In this manner, for example, it was theorized that mercury could
penetrate into metals and modify their inner structure, a step on the
way towards transmutative production of gold.
associated by its leading proponents with the idea that some of the
properties that objects appear to have are artifacts of the perceiving
mind: 'secondary' qualities as distinguished from 'primary' qualities.
Not all corpuscularianism made use of the primary-secondary quality
distinction, however. An influential tradition in medieval and early
modern alchemy argued that chemical analysis revealed the existence of
robust corpuscles that retained their identity in chemical compounds
(to use the modern term).
William R. Newman has dubbed this approach
to matter theory "chymical atomism," and has argued for its
significance to both the mechanical philosophy and to the chemical
atomism that emerged in the early 19th century. Corpuscularianism
stayed a dominant theory over the next several hundred years and
retained its links with alchemy in the work of scientists such as
Robert Boyle and
Isaac Newton in the 17th century. It was used by
Newton, for instance, in his development of the corpuscular theory of
light . The form that came to be accepted by most English scientists
Robert Boyle (1627–1692) was an amalgam of the systems of
Descartes and Gassendi. In
The Sceptical Chymist
The Sceptical Chymist (1661), Boyle
demonstrates problems that arise from chemistry, and offers up atomism
as a possible explanation. The unifying principle that would
eventually lead to the acceptance of a hybrid corpuscular–atomism
was mechanical philosophy , which became widely accepted by physical
By the late 18th century, the useful practices of engineering and
technology began to influence philosophical explanations for the
composition of matter. Those who speculated on the ultimate nature of
matter began to verify their "thought experiments" with some
repeatable demonstrations , when they could.
Roger Boscovich provided the first general mathematical theory of
atomism, based on the ideas of Newton and Leibniz but transforming
them so as to provide a programme for atomic physics.
John Dalton assimilated the known experimental work of many
people to summarize the empirical evidence on the composition of
matter. He noticed that distilled water everywhere analyzed to the
same elements, hydrogen and oxygen . Similarly, other purified
substances decomposed to the same elements in the same proportions by
weight. Therefore we may conclude that the ultimate particles of all
homogeneous bodies are perfectly alike in weight, figure, etc. In
other words, every particle of water is like every other particle of
water; every particle of hydrogen is like every other particle of
Furthermore, he concluded that there was a unique atom for each
Lavoisier 's definition of an element as a substance
that could not be analyzed into something simpler. Thus, Dalton
concluded the following.
Chemical analysis and synthesis go no
farther than to the separation of particles one from another, and to
their reunion. No new creation or destruction of matter is within the
reach of chemical agency. We might as well attempt to introduce a new
planet into the solar system, or to annihilate one already in
existence, as to create or destroy a particle of hydrogen. All the
changes we can produce, consist in separating particles that are in a
state of cohesion or combination, and joining those that were
previously at a distance.
And then he proceeded to give a list of relative weights in the
compositions of several common compounds, summarizing: 1st. That
water is a binary compound of hydrogen and oxygen, and the relative
weights of the two elementary atoms are as 1:7, nearly; 2nd. That
ammonia is a binary compound of hydrogen and azote nitrogen , and the
relative weights of the two atoms are as 1:5, nearly...
Dalton concluded that the fixed proportions of elements by weight
suggested that the atoms of one element combined with only a limited
number of atoms of the other elements to form the substances that he
ATOMIC THEORY CONTROVERSY
Dalton's atomic theory remained controversial throughout the 19th
century. Whilst the Law of definite proportion was accepted, the
hypothesis that this was due to atoms was not so widely accepted. For
example, in 1826 when Sir
Humphry Davy presented Dalton the Royal
Medal from the
Royal Society , Davy said that the theory only became
useful when the atomic conjecture was ignored. Sir Benjamin Collins
Brodie in 1866 published the first part of his Calculus of Chemical
Operations as a non-atomic alternative to the Atomic Theory. He
described atomic theory as a 'Thoroughly materialistic bit of joiners
work'. Alexander Williamson used his Presidential Address to the
London Chemical Society in 1869 to defend the Atomic Theory against
its critics and doubters. This in turn led to further meetings at
which the positivists again attacked the supposition that there were
atoms. The matter was finally resolved in Dalton's favour in the early
20th century with the rise of atomic physics .
History of chemistry
History of chemistry
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