The Father of the Atom: Democritus and the Nature of Matter

Overview

Democritus was the ancient philosopher who led people to think about a world made up of atoms. He also tried to explain such things as what makes living things alive, how living things perceive the world, and the development of human society from the stone age to his own day. Modern scientists adopted the term "atom" from his word for the smallest units of matter, atomoi.

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Overview

Democritus was the ancient philosopher who led people to think about a world made up of atoms. He also tried to explain such things as what makes living things alive, how living things perceive the world, and the development of human society from the stone age to his own day. Modern scientists adopted the term "atom" from his word for the smallest units of matter, atomoi.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Democritus was born in 460 B.C. and died ninety years later. Often overlooked among the great ancient philosophers, Democritus was a thinker who studied the world and sought to understand what lay beneath the surface. Best known for his atomist perspectives, Democritus postulated a theory that was grounded on the belief that all things, living and inert, were made up of tiny particles that were bound together by forces of energy. For Democritus, the atom was the building block of existence, and the combination of countless atoms made the world what it was perceived to be. In this chapter of the illustrated "Great Minds of Ancient Science and Math" series, youngsters are afforded a look into the life and times of this Grecian philosopher. Unfortunately, even though the life of Democritus and his groundbreaking viewpoints have great connectivity with modern thought, this particular presentation of his life is uneven in nature. The bulk of the text faithfully reconstructs not only the thoughts of Democritus but also several of his contemporaries. Sadly, these perspectives and philosophies are presented in a rather turgid manner that may be difficult for many readers to sift through. It is in the final chapters of this biography that the writer hits her stride and, using less theoretical and more applicative language, presents the impact of Democritus' thought in more contemporary times. This somewhat heavy-handed narrative style delimits the effectiveness of this biography and thereby limits its appeal, save for readers with a particular bent for philosophical discourse. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8–Many modern ideas about science and mathematics were influenced by, or born from, the theories of ancient thinkers. These biographies describe the individuals behind the original ideas, the times in which they lived, and their theories. Since little straight biographical information is available about many of the men–a fact emphasized in the texts–the books also use information about their backgrounds, including their education, gleaned from the writings of successors. The focus here is on scientific ideas, illuminating how these men came to their conclusions and how today's practices stem from them. For those libraries looking to add materials on ancient Greece that go beyond mythology, these biographies are solid choices, as they provide a good overview of the cultural and political landscape of the times, as well as pictures of their subjects.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780766034105
  • Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Series: Great Minds of Ancient Science and Math Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 9 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Life and Times of Democritus 5

2 What Is Matter Made Of? 18

3 The First Atomic Theory 37

4 How Humans Perceive the World 47

5 The Nature of Living Things 54

6 The Evolution of Human Society 60

7 Democritus's Impact on the Ancient World 70

8 The Impact of Democritus on Modern Science 78

Activities 90

Chronology 93

Chapter Notes 96

Glossary 103

Further Reading 108

Internet Addresses 109

Index 110

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