Democritus' Atomic Theory of the Universe

The call Democritus' Atomic Theory explains that matter is just a combination of atoms, these are constant and indefinite complements of short size, therefore they are invisible to the senses. In this post we will learn about this interesting theory, you can not miss it!

Democritus' Atomic Theory

Who was Democritus?

He was a Greek thinker and mathematician who was born between the V-IV centuries before Christ, he was a student of Leucippus, who was known as the laughing thinker.

Philosopher with an extensive level of fascination, he is remembered more than anything for his atomistic ability of matter. It is estimated that he was the creator of physics or the creator of today's science.

Democritus discovered that when a stone is cut in half, each part contains the same number of properties as the original stone.

There were several Contributions from Democritus that marked history since he thought that if the stone continued to be cut into smaller pieces, it would reach such a small level where it could not be cut anymore. As well as the Contributions by Blaise Pascal.

It is said that he who divined the future and among his important creations talks about his Great Diacosmos, for which he held a popular plebiscite, an award given to at least 600 geniuses.

Democritus' Atomic Theory

It is said that he traveled to various places including Egypt where he lived for 6 years until he got the proper knowledge about geometry, for example, reaching India in search of more wisdom.

The money he used to be able to travel was left by his father when he died, it was given to his brothers and to him, after which he performed the Diacosmos to protect himself from the prompt accusations made by others who spend the succession of his parents.

The prestigious physicists Dalton, Bohr, Einstein and Rutherford were not the only ones who spoke about the atom, since the word molecule was created by the thinker Leucippus of Miletus and his student Democritus 460 years before Christ.

Democritus Contributions

He was the person in charge of designing molecular science which was promoted mainly by Leucippus many years before.

There are several Greek thinkers who made a great contribution to current science as they planted the seed of the atomic belief. Democritus commented that the universe and everything around it is made up of molecules with the following qualities:

  • Beginnings of the atomic type of Democritus.
  • These molecules are physically unique.
  • Molecules cannot be destroyed.
  • Molecules are in motion all the time.

As a result of all these confirmations, the thinkers knew that the strength of a material will depend only on the kind of molecule from which it was formed and the union of several atoms with each other.


Democritus was in charge of carrying out the molecular science of the universe, initiated by his teacher Leucippus. This science like all other Greek theories does not support the claims through experiments, but instead describes itself with natural arguments.

He affirms that all matter is nothing more than a combination of original instruments that contain the qualities of stability and duration, acquired as small substances and therefore invisible to all the senses, which Democritus considered as molecules which have as meaning « no division."

Democritus' Atomic Theory

The atomistic science of Democritus and Leucippus can be organized as follows:

  • Atoms are durable, invisible, compact, indestructible.
  • Atoms are known only by their shape and size, but not by internal qualities.
  • The qualities of matter change depending on the group of atoms.

The vacuum

The philosophers thought very differently than the Eleatians, this is because the Eleatians did not like movement as part of the truth, but rather it was some kind of phenomenon, since Leucippus and Democritus explain that movement does exist. He first explained about the strength of inertia. In turn, the main reality of atoms and the void has a resemblance to being and not being that the Eleatians demonstrated.

Plato's Reluctance

Plato perhaps had a personal problem with Democritus since he wanted all his writings to be eliminated, regardless of the philosophical demonstration against them.

Democritus' Atomic Theory

On the other hand, Plato's student Aristotle was lucid at the creation of Democritus although he was not very happy about it. A model of this would be that Aristotle confirmed that the fundamental elements such as: earth, fire, air and water, were not made up of atoms.

Despite the fact that his demonstrations indicated a great opposition to the atomism of Democritus, included among his works they show that atomism was understood very seriously by the selection of the thinkers of Greece.

After a while, different thinkers like Epicurus and students like Lucretius took up atomism with some modifications.

Democritus died at the age of 90, which according to obvious deductions was about the year 372 BC. Although some specialists say that they do not agree and declare that he lived until 104 or even 109 BC.

Regardless of the date of his death Democritus was contemplated by various scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries, they appreciated him very much due to all his discoveries in philosophy, discovering that there are different kinds of atoms that when united form different existing substances.

The conclusions of Democritus and other thinkers such as the Quantum Planck Theory regarding the discoveries they executed it from the reasoning. She placed the importance of reality in the background and had little faith in sensory practice, this means that she esteemed all the senses. 

The laughing philosopher

There are stories that speak of Democritus laughing sarcastically all the time at the movement in the world, and they said it was the laugh of a great genius.

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