Belief in atoms as the building blocks of matter has an ancient history. Some Buddhist thinkers in India, during the 6th century BCE, believed all matter to be made up of atoms, which they regarded as a form of energy. In addition, Greek pre-atomists such as Empedocles and Anaxagoras also conceived of invisibly tiny particles of matter. These early philosopher-scientists arrived at their view through a process of deductive thought alone.
Although atomism fell out of favor for many centuries, it was, in the end the model that would prevail, later supported by experimentation and observation. But the early atomists weren’t quite right. Their belief that atoms are the smallest, indivisible particles of matter proved to be incorrect, because atoms are made up of subatomic particles. And, as scientists have probed inside the atom, it’s proven to be a bizarre and unpredictable place.
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