Atomic theory

Father of Atomic Theory
Leucippus 75“All reality consists of hard indivisible particles, moving and colliding in empty space.”
Leucippus (c.450BC)Theory
In science, atomic theory is an argument that all matter in the universe consists of small particles called atoms or atomos (Greek meaning 'uncuttable' or 'indivisible') moving about in a void or vacuum.

The atomic theory was originated by Greek philosopher Leucippus in circa 450 BC as a point of argument to contradict the earlier circa 485 BC hypothesis by Greek philosopher Parmenides that vacuums are a natural impossibility or that “nature abhors a vacuum”.

The following table lists the chronological development of atomic theory, from the early 'Greek school' of atomic theory (450-55BC), to fragmented commentary in the dark ages, to the revival of atomic theory (1600-1800), to subatomic theory (1902-1926), to subnuclear theory (1963-), to human molecular theory (2002-).

Atomic View

Greek school of atomic theory (f)Classical Atomic Theory: Greek philosopher Leucippus originated "atomic theory" in circa 475BC, supposing the universe to consist of atoms and voids; students of Leucippean atomic theory include: Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius. [4]

Standard model
Next to and along side of the development of atomic theory was Greek philosopher Empedocles' 450BC "standard model" of physics, in which the universe consisting of four elements (earth, air, water, and fire) and two forces (attraction and repulsion).

c.485 BCParmenides 75Parmenides
Argued that vacuums are a natural impossibility, specifically that “nature abhors a vacuum”.
c.450 BCLeucippus 75Leucippus
Often called the 'father of atomic theory', he was the first to conceive of the atomic theory, arguing that the universe consisted entirely of atoms and void, a theory purposely contrived so to contradict Greek philosopher Parmenides' earlier view that voids are impossible.
c. 420BCSocrates 75 Socrates
Is said to have had a negative reaction to the atomic theory, which in his view was a theory which left no room for freedom of choice, and hence a basis of morality; this Socratic aversion (carried forward by his greatest student Plato), is said to been the reason for the two-millennium long interment of atomic theory. In short, the Platonic view rejected “mechanical manifestations of material atoms”.
c.410BCDemocritus 75Democritus
Student of Leucippus, who furthered the atomic view, whose famous motto is: "nothing exists but atoms and voids." [9] Another version reads: "no thing is real but atoms in a void, and all things happen by chance and necessity." [17] In more detail: [1]

“According to convention there is a sweet and a bitter, a hot and a cold, and according to convention there is color. In truth there are atoms and a void.”
360BCPlato 75Plato
in his circa 360BC dialogue Timaeus, supposedly following Pythagoras, introduced the atomic theory proposition that ideal geometric forms serve as atoms, according to which atoms broke down mathematically into triangles, such that the form elements had the following shape: fire (tetrahedron), air (octahedron), water (icosahedron), earth (cube). This, however, was not atomic theory proper, but rather the four element theory.
c. 300BCEpicurus 75Epicurus
Built on the theories of Leucippus and Democritus in the development his Epicurean philosophy ("eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die"), that of aiming to find satiety in life's desires. He left his teachings in the form of some three hundred scrolls, which fell into the hands of his vicarious student Lucretius. In opposition to Democritus, he introduced the swerve of the atom theory, to allow for human free will.
c. 75 BCLucretius 75Lucretius
Student of the work of Epicurus, outlined the basics of atomic theory in his lengthy poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), chapter two on 'movement and shapes of atoms'. [10] On heat in relation to atoms, Lucretius states: [2]

“Clothes hung above a surf-swept shore grow damp; spread in the sun they dry again.
Yet it is not apparent to us how the moisture clings to the cloth, or flees the heat. Water, then, is dispersed in particles, atoms too small to be observed.”

On atomic volition he comments:

“For surely the atoms did not hold council, assigning order to each, flexing their keen minds with questions of place and motion and who goes where. But shuffled and jumbled in many ways, in the course of endless time they are buffeted, driven along, chancing upon all motions, combinations. At last they fall into such an arrangement as would create this universe.”

This talk of the absence of atomic volition, to note, is similar in context to the earlier circa 450 BC human chemistry views of Greek philosopher Empedocles, who famous stated that people related tend to mix like water and wine; whereas enemies mix or rather separate like oil and water.
c. 50ADicon 75 (test)Hero
Viewed matter as consisting of particles mixed with distributed vacua.
c.250icon 75 (test)Plotinus
An anti-atomicist philosopher; view:

“What motion of atoms can one attribute to the actions and passions of the soul? . . . What movements of atoms stir the thought of the geometer, the arithmetician, or the astronomer? What movements are the source of wisdom?”

Dark ages (c)Atomic Theory Suspension: in the early and middle ages, from the rise of Christianity up until the invention of the printing press, atomic theory lay in relative dormancy (100-1500), aside from a few scattered views. This was is generally owing to the fact that atomic theory, by implication, promotes atheism, and hence is diametrically opposed to religion. In the 1610 words of English scientific method philosopher Francis Bacon (see: "renaissance atomic theorists", below):

“Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus and Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty, without a divine marshal.”

400St. Augustine 75 Augustine
Argues: “let those philosophers disappear, who attribute natural corporeal principles to the intelligence attached to matter, such as Thales, who refers everything to water, Anaximenes to air, the Stoics to fire, Epicurus to atoms, that is to say, to infinitely small objects that can neither be divided nor perceived.”

Adelard of Bath
Thought that physics of atoms made sense. [24]

William of Conches
Thought that physics of atoms made sense. [24]

Thierry of Chartres
Thought that physics of atoms made sense. [24]

Had some type of Aristotelean-influenced atomic theory; later cited by Daniel Sennert. (Ѻ)
1175Moses Maimonides 75 Maimonides
Refers to the earlier atomic views of Epicurus and gives commentary on the doctrine of the Mutakallemim (scholars of kalam), the first principle of which is that “the universe, that is, everything contained in it, is composed of very small parts [atoms] which are indivisible on account of their smallness; such an atom has no magnitude; but when several atoms combine, the sum has a magnitude, and thus forms a body”; the second proposition of which is that the universe is a vacuum in which the atoms are found; the third proposition arguing that time is composed of 'time-atoms'. [8]

William of Ockham 75William of Ockham
Was critical of Aristotle; claimed that matter could be reduced down to elementary particles. [24]

Nicholas of Autrecourt
Defended atomism. [24]

Renaissance atomic theoristsAtomic Theory Revival: in the sixteenth century onward, scientists and philosophers, from Bruno to Kant, began to utilize atomic theory, in various forms, in what is known as the revival period (1550-1800), central among this group being Gassendi, Descartes, and Newton. [4]

1417Poggio Bracciolini 75 Poggio Bracciolini
In January, while scouting about German monasteries in search of rare “humanism” books of antiquity, discovered Lucretius’ 55BC atomic theory based On the Nature of Things—all copies previous thought destroyed or non-existent—which he sent to his wealthy associate Niccolo Niccoli, inventor if italic script, a noted book collector whose aim was to will his final collection with funds into the form of Italy's first public library; Niccoli made more than fifty copies, in book form.

Desiderius Erasmus 75Desiderius Erasmus
Attempted to reconcile Epicurus and Lucretius with Christian thinking. [24]
1516Thomas More 75Thomas More
Attempted to reconcile Epicurus and Lucretius with Christian thinking; his Utopia was the result. [24]
1584Giordano Bruno 75 Giordano Bruno
Conceived of the atom as a three-dimensional physical particle capable of spontaneously moving itself. Using Lucretius as a basis, he extended the Copernican heliocentrism to argue that the universe is made up of an infinite number of suns with their own planetary systems; and viewed matter as following an active animistic principle, in that matter is ‘intelligent’, discontinuous in structure, and made up of discrete atoms or four elements (water, earth, fire, and air); proposed the view that everything that exists is made up of infinitesimal monads, of three varieties: God (the monad of monads), souls, and indivisible atoms. He was burned at the stake for his views; in the centuries to follow, his ideas were held up for ridicule, debate, or inspiration; Margaret Cavendish, for example, wrote an entire series of poems against "atoms" and "infinite worlds" in Poems and Fancies in 1664.

1601Francis Bacon 75Francis Bacon
In his 1601 essay "Of Atheism", on the subject of atheism, outlined the view that one can either believe in God or believe in atoms (or rather the "school of Leucippus and Democritus and Epicurus"), but not both.
1618Daniel Sennert 75 Daniel Sennert
In his 1618 Epitome Naturalis Scientiae he gave speculative support for atomic theory; in his 1636 Hypomnemata Physicae he outlined the view that each substance can be broken down into its minima naturalia a sort of atom, stable small corpuscle, or smallest possible component of a substance. [11]
1623GalileoGalileo Galilei
Openly endorsed the atomism of Democritus and Epicurus, statements to the effect of which appear in Il Saggiatore (1623) and in Dialogue (1632), form which he drew a number of consequences about the nature of 'sensible qualities.' Viewed the atom as an unextended geometrical point. Expressions recurrent in his writings include: atomi ignei (igneous atoms), atomi del fuoco (atoms of fire), atomi calidi (hot atoms), and sottilissimi atomi (very thin atoms). [16]

1637Descartes 75Rene Descartes
hooked atomsSignificant reviver of atomic theory, and supposedly was one of the first to develop a prototype of 'molecular theory' in the form of hooked-together atoms, whereby when the hook of one atom got caught in the loop of another atom, a bond would form.
1649Pierre Gassendi 75Pierre Gassendi
Wrote a book on the life of Epicurus, reasoned that to account for the size and shape of atoms moving in a void could account for the properties of matter. Heat was due to small, round atoms; cold, to pyramidal atoms with sharp points, which accounted for the pricking sensation of severe cold; and solids were held together by interlacing hooks.
1661Boyle 75Robert Boyle
In his The Skeptical Chemist, argued that matter is composed of clusters of particles and that chemical change results from the rearrangement of the clusters; matter's basic elements were said to consist of various sorts and sizes of particles, called 'corpuscles', which were capable of arranging themselves into groups. First to apply atomic theory to chemical change. Defined an element as 'a substance that cannot be decomposed into any simpler substance'.
1714Gottfried Leibniz (75px)Gottfried Leibniz
In his Monadology, he extended Bruno's concept of 'monads', in which universe consisted of an indefinite number of indivisible units, but defined such that each indivisible monad is primarily a center of force or action; he, supposedly, updated Bruno's concept of self-motivation of matter soul; with the term "force".
1718Isaac Newton (75px)Isaac Newton
Newton, in Query 31 of his Opticks, acknowledged the various 'atom attachment theories' in vogue at the time, i.e. “hooked atoms”, “glued atoms” (bodies at rest), and the “stick together by conspiring motions” theory, but believed particles attract one another by some force, which “in immediate contact is extremely strong, at small distances performs the chemical operations, and reaches not far from particles with any sensible effect.”
1721Emanuel Swedenborg Emanuel Swedenborg
Outlined a type of atomic geometry, in which geometric groupings of small, concrete atoms explain the properties of different substances. [14]
1748Gowin Knight 75 Gowin Knight
His An Attempt to demonstrate that all the Phenomena in Nature may be explained by two simple active principles, Attraction and Repulsion, wherein the attractions of Cohesion, Gravity, and Magnetism are more particularly explained, which consists of ninety-one propositions, marks of an epoch in which attempts were made to push the Newtonian doctrine into molecular speculations; preceding Boscovich's better-known work on a similar subject by ten years.
1758Roger Boscovich 75 Roger Boscovich (1711-1787) Developed a ‘theory of point atoms’, a modified type of Newtonian atomic theory of inelastic collisions regarding atoms as centers of forces rather than as particles. His 1763 book Theoria Philosophiae Naturalis, outlined a ‘stationary atom’ theory, which reasoned that at short range, atoms attracted each other, but that at longer range, atoms pushed each other way, the latter aspect explaining gas pressure
1775photo needed 75 Bryan Higgins
Outlined an atomic hypothesis that recognized seven elements—earth, water, alkali, acid, air, phlogiston, and light—each one consisting of ‘atoms homogeneal’, being impenetrable, immutable in figure, inconvertible, and globular, or nearly so, and in which a speculation was made on the attractions and repulsions between these bodies. [14]

Modern atomic theoristsModern Atomic Theory: At the end of the eighteenth century, experimental evidence, e.g. the experimental chemistry of Lavoisier (1780s), the invention of battery (1800), etc., began to drive forward more robust ideas and conceptions on atomic theory, central among this group being John Dalton, often considered the father of modern atomic theory, for his assignment of hydrogen, the lightest element, with an atomic mass unit of one, using this as a basis to determine atomic ratios in molecules. [4]

1787Lavoisier 75Antoine Lavoisier
Considered bodies to be composed of particles, which were kept separate by means of caloric or the matter of heat, such that the more caloric there was in a given body, the more it would be made to expand according to Boerhaave’s law; he also introduced the modern definition: “with the word ‘element’ or ‘principles of bodies’, we associate the notion of the ultimate entity arrived at by analysis; all substances that we have not yet decomposed by any means, we consider elements.”
1789photo needed 75 William Higgins
His A Comparative View of Phlogistic and Antiphlogistic Theories, had developed a theory of 'ultimate particles' attached via divided force fractions, a type of atomic union to form molecules model; in 1814 he published Experiments and Observations on Atomic Theory and Electrical Phenomena. [14]
1803Dalton 75John Dalton
Dalton atomic modelUsing the hooked atom theory as a model for bonding, founded modern 'atomic theory' by initiating the basics of stoichiometry, assigning the hydrogen atom, the lightest element, as unity, and determined the atomic ratios in various molecules, such as nitrous anhydride N2O3. Dalton is often considered the 'father of modern atomic theory.'
1811Avogadro 75Amedeo Avogadro
Calculated the number of atoms in a volume of gas, as defined by the Avogadro constant.

1814Andre Ampere 75 Andre Ampere
Developed a ‘geometric model’ in which he pictured atoms of chemical elements as being composed of subatomic particles. [7]
1816Jean Biot 75 Jean Biot
Central person of the 'atomic theory' group at the Ecole Polytechnique, including Augustin Cauchy (1789-1857) and Simeon Poisson (1781-1840), who, in the 1810s to 1830s, employed models in which the atom consisted of a massive nucleus surrounded by an atmosphere of imponderable ether particles. [7] In his 1816 textbook on experimental and theoretical physics, he mentioned views on atomic structure similar to Andre Ampere’s ‘geometric model’ .
1826Gustav Fechner 75 Gustav Fechner
After translating Biot’s 1816 textbook into German, in 1828 he went on to construct a dynamic atomic model in which the ‘atoms simulate in small dimensions the situations of the astronomical objects in larger dimensions, being animate in any case by the same forces; and each body may be regarded as a system of innumerably many small suns, floating at comparatively large distances from one another, such that each or several of them together are surrounded by orbiting planetary atoms.” [7]
1841Karl Marx (young) 75Karl Marx
Completed his 1841 PhD dissertation on Differences between the Natural Philosophies of Democritus and Epicurus, in which he is very critical of Gassendi’s efforts to rehabilitate Epicureanism; also authored a post-humorous piece entitled “Epicurean Philosophy”.
1870Thomson (old) 75William Thomson
→ Vortex atom theory
vortex ring atom In 1867, inspired by Hermann Helmholtz’s 1858 paper on “vortices”, recently translated by his friend Peter Tait, the two came up with the idea, following smoke ring experiments done by Tiat, that atoms were types of vortex rings, like smoke rings, or knots of swirling vortices in the æther. [19] Chemical elements would thus correspond to knots and links and that an understanding and classification of all possible knots would explain why atoms absorb and emit light at only the discrete wavelengths that they do. [20] In his 1870 Nature article "Size of Atoms", he worked out a method for estimating the size of atoms, or rather to fix the limits between which their sizes lie; similar atomic sizing methods were worked out independently, in this period, by Josef Loschmidt and George Stoney. In 1902, he is said to have proposed the first modern 'structural theory of the atom' (see: subatomic theory section, below), in which an atom was hypothesized to have a uniformly distributed positive electrical cloud in which electrons were inserted so as to produce an equilibrium situation when the negative charges were at rest. [4]
1871Wilhelm Weber 75 Wilhelm Weber
Built on Fechner’s model of the atom, but assumed the heavy solar atoms and the almost massless planetary atoms to be electrically charged, replacing Fechner’s gravitational attraction with electrical forces. Weber gave the following picture of an atom:

“Let e be the positively charged electrical particle, and let the negative particle, carrying an opposite charge of equal amount, be denoted by –e Let only the latter be associated with the massive atom, whose mass is so large that the mass of the positive particle may be considered as negligible. The particle –e may then be considered as being at rest, while just the particle e moves around the particle –e.”

This model, supposedly, became defunct with James Maxell’s electromagnetic theory of transverse electric and magnetic waves.
1868Boltzmann 75Ludwig Boltzmann
Building on the kinetic theory work of Clausius and Maxwell, developed the statistical mechanics of atomic movement (velocities), thus bring conclusive validation to atomic theory, over detracting views, such as professed by those of the energetics school, particularly Ernst Mach, Wilhelm Ostwald, and Pierre Duhem, who considered atoms to be a metaphysical abstraction.
1878Alfred Mayer 75Alfred Mayer
Floating magnets experiment
floating magnets (2-7)To study how atomic points of charge might be arranged, he took equally magnetized needles and stuck them through corks so that they would float with their north poles all at the same height above the water, all repelling each other equally. He then held the south pole of a more powerful magnet some distance above the water, to attract the needles towards this central point. The idea was to see what equilibrium patterns the needles would form for different numbers of needles. He found that the needles liked to arrange themselves in shells: three needles formed a triangle, five a square with a needle at the center; ten a ring with a triangle at the center; fifteen a needle surrounded by two shells or rings; and so on. These experimental findings inspired the later 1904 "plum pudding model" of Joseph Thomson.
1883Bergson 75Henri Bergson
Published Les Extraits de Lucrece (Excerpts from Lucretius) giving commentary on the atom-void views of Lucretius, a view which he favored.
1897Mach 75Ernst Mach
Famously declared: "I don't believe that atoms exist!", following an 1897 lecture by Ludwig Boltzmann at the Imperial Academy of Science in Vienna; often cited as the “last physicist to deny the existence of the atom”; Mach’s opposition to Boltzmann, along with his teaming up with Wilhelm Ostwald with the energetics school, is said to be what drove Boltzmann to the grave; Max Planck’s famous “a new scientific truth” quote is attributed to this debacle; Albert Einstein later met with Mach to see if he would be willing to recant, if he could predict a property of a gas in such a way that it required the assumption of the existence of atoms—Mach, supposedly, as Einstein recalled delightedly, “replied affirmatively”. [23]
1897Joseph Thomson 75Joseph Thomson
After experimenting with cathode-ray tubes, published a paper, in which he postulated that the cathode rays are streams of “negatively electrified particles” [i.e. electrons] with mass.

Subatomic Theory
1891George Stoney 75George Stoney
Coined the term "electron" (1891); also estimated the size of the atom (along with William Thomson and Josef Loschmidt) in circa 1870.
1903Nagaoka HantaroHantaro Nagaoka
Building on the 1859 work of James Maxwell on the stability of Saturn’s rings, Nagaoka mathematically considered the properties of a ‘Saturnian’ atom, which he supposed the atom to consist of a central attracting mass surrounded by rings of rotating electrons, showing that such a system was stable if the attractive force was large. [6]
1904Joseph Thomson 75Joseph Thomson
Plum pudding model (Thomson, 1904)After experimentally discovering the electron (1897), conceived of the 'plum pudding model' in 1904 of an atom, in which small negatively charged electrons floated in a uniformly positively-charged sphere.

atom (photoelectric effect)In 1887, Heinrich Hertz discovered that electrodes illuminated with ultraviolet light create electric sparks more easily. In 1900, while studying black-body radiation, the German physicist Max Planck suggested that the energy carried by electromagnetic waves could only be released in "packets" of energy. In 1905, Albert Einstein published a paper advancing the hypothesis that light energy is carried in discrete quantized packets to explain experimental data from the photoelectric effect. This model contributed to the development of quantum mechanics. In 1914, Robert Millikan's experiment supported Einstein's model of the photoelectric effect. Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921 for "his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", and Millikan was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 for "his work on the elementary charge of electricity and on the photoelectric effect".
1909Wilhelm Ostwald 75Wilhelm Ostwal
Quote: “I am now convinced that we have recently become possessed of experimental evidence of the discrete or grained nature of matter, which the atomic hypothesis sought in vain for hundreds and thousands of years. The isolation and counting of gaseous ions, on the one hand, which have crowned with success the long and brilliant researches of J.J. Thomson, and, on the other, agreement of the Brownian movement with the requirements of the kinetic hypothesis, established by many investigators and most conclusively by J. Perrin, justify the most cautious scientist in now speaking of the experimental proof of the atomic nature of matter, the atomic hypothesis is thus raised to the position of a scientifically well-founded theory, and can claim a place in a text-book intended for use as an introduction to the present state of our knowledge of general chemistry.” (Ѻ) [21]
1911Rutherford 75Ernest Rutherford
Rutherford atomAfter experimentally discovering the nucleus, in his 1909 gold foil experiment, conceived of the 'Rutherford model' of the atom in 1911, according to which the atom had most of its mass at the center characterized by a "positive central charge N e, and surrounded by a compensating charge of N electrons"; Rutherford failed to speculate further on electronic structure, but did mention the Saturn ring model of Nagaoka; Rutherford later coined the term 'proton' (1919) for structure of hydrogen nuclei. [5]
1913Niels Bohr 75Niels Bohr
Bohr model
Bohr atomEstablished the basic modern model of the internal structure the atom, called the 'Bohr model', in which an atom consists of a central positively charged nucleus surrounded by a certain number of negatively charged electrons, moving about in specific orbits about the nucleus, at certain discrete distances from the nucleus, with specific energies, whereby the electrons can gain or lose energy by jumping from one allowed orbit to another, absorbing or emitting electromagnetic radiation, in the form of energy elements, with a frequency ν determined by the energy difference between the two energy levels according to the Planck relation (E2 – E1 = h ν), determined in 1900 by Max Planck.
1924Louis de Broglie 75Louis de Broglie
Introduced the 'wavelike atom' model, proposing that all matter, particularly electrons, must have a wave-like behavior in their motion.
1926Jean Perrin 75Jean Perrin
Won the Nobel Prize in physics for proving, conclusively, the reality of the “atomistic description” of nature—a recognition often said to mark the final and formal acceptance of Leucippus’ c.450BC atomic theory by science officially; he did this by calculating Avogadro's number using three different methods, all involving liquid phase systems. First, he used a gamboge soap-like emulsion, second by doing experimental work on Brownian motion, and third by confirming Einstein’s theory of particle rotation in the liquid phase.
1926Schrodinger 75Erwin Schrodinger
charge cloudUtilized de Broglie's wave hypothesis to develop a wave equation that describes the movement of the electrons about a nucleus (or rather the distribution of the charges electrons in space), thus initiating the 'orbital model' of the atom.
1932James Chadwick 75 James Chadwick
Experimentally discovered the 'neutron' an uncharged nuclear particle slightly larger in mass than the proton.
1955Erwin Muller 75Erwin Muller
Atoms first seen (1955)Using a field ion microscope, he became the first person to “see” an individual atom (Ѻ); the dots in the image shown, a platinum micrograph (1973), similar to the view seen by Muller, are individual platinum atoms. (Ѻ)

Subnuclear Theory

1963Murray Gell-Mann 75Murray Gell-Mann
Assigned the name "quark" to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon (protons and neutrons).

Human molecular theory
See main: Human molecular theory, Human molecular hypothesis, human molecule
A subset of atomic theory logic is 'human molecular theory', the premise that humans are made of atoms, ordered in specific arrangement, in the form of a dynamic molecule. The immensity of this simple doctrine cannot be overestimated in terms of it far-reaching implications. To illuminate, as commented, in aggregate form, famously by American physicist Richard Feynman, in his famous time capsule wisdom:

“If all scientific knowledge were lost in a cataclysm, the single statement that I would propose to best pass on our understanding of the world, so to preserve the most information for the next generations of creatures, would be: ‘all things are made of atoms’.”

The extrapolation of this, up to the human scale, namely that:

“All humans are made of atoms”

is the more far-reaching statement with which to pass on to subsequent generations.

That humans are little particles (made of atoms), which go by various names: human molecules, human atoms, human atomisms, human particles, human chemicals, or human elements, etc., that move around, attracting each other when in near vicinity, but repelling upon being squeezed together in too close a manner. In this one sentence, one sees that there is an enormous amount of information about the human world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied. In this perspective, the following table gives a gist outline of human molecular theory:

Modern Human Molecular Theory
1919George Carey 75George Carey
Definitively stated that: "man's body is a chemical formula in operation."
2000Sterner 75Robert Sterner
In their ecological stoichiometric studies of elemental composition variations in related species of small fresh water organisms, Sterner and Elser initiated modern 'human molecular theory' by calculating the following 22-element empirical molecular formula for one person:

H375,000,000 O132,000,000 C85,700,000 N6,430,000 Ca1,500,000 P1,020,000 S206,000 Na183,000 K177,000
Cl127,000 Mg40,000 Si38,600 Fe2,680 Zn2,110 Cu76 I14 Mn13 F13 Cr7 Se4 Mo3 Co1

which they specifically defined as the chemical formula for one 'human molecule', thus giving, for the first time, experimentally measured proof or derivation that a human being is a 'molecule' comprised of a specific number of operational atoms.
Elser 75James Elser
2002Thims 75Libb Thims
In his human thermodynamic studies, particularly surrounding efforts to understand how the spontaneity criterion applies to human relationships, in 2002 calculated the following 26-element empirical molecular formula:

H2.5E9 O9.7E8 C4.9E8 N4.7E7 P9.0E6 Ca8.9E6 K2.0E6 Na1.9E6 S1.6E6 Cl1.3E6 Mg3.0E5 Fe5.5E4
F5.4E4 Zn1.2E4 Si9.1E3 Cu1.2E3 B7.1E2 Cr98 Mn93 Ni87 Se65 Sn64 I60 Mo19 Co17 V

and in 2007 wrote the first textbook on the behavior and reactions of human molecules; and in 2008, after becoming aware of the earlier work of Sterner and Elser, wrote the first booklet on history of the concept of the human molecule.
2005photo needed 75New ScientistIn 2005, in an anon author of a New Scientist article entitled “That’s Life”, gave the following 12-element empirical formula was: [15]

 H_{15,750} N_{310} O_{6,500} C_{2,250} Ca_{63} P_{48} K_{15} S_{15} Na_{10} Cl_{6} Mg_{3} Fe_{1} \,

This attempt at what the author calls "one's chemical formula", however, is lacking in 14 elements shown to have active role in the internal functioning of a person.

The three subjects concerning the study of human molecules include: human chemistry, human physics, and human thermodynamics.

The following are related quotes:

“When I taught physics in secondary school in 1891, the invisible and indestructible atom was the foundation upon which the scientific structure was built. Some of my naïve pupils were skeptical and asked if I were telling a fairy tale.”
Judson Herrick (1956), The Evolution of Human Nature (pg. 33)

“If, in some cataclysm, all scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms — little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence you will see an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.”
Richard Feynman (1964), Lectures on Physics

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14. (a) Clarke, F.W. (1904). “The Atomic Theory”, Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian, pgs. 243-62.
(b) Swedenborg, Emanuel. (1721). Some Specimens of a Work on the Principles of Chemistry, with other Treatises (in Latin). Amsterdam; English ed. 1847, London.
15. Author. (2005). “That’s Life”, New Scientist, Dec 03.
16. Finger, Stanley and Piccolino, Marco. (2011). The Shocking History of Electric Fishes: from Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neuropsyciology (pg. 144). Oxford University Press.
17. Scott, George P. (1985). Atoms of the Living Flame: an Odyssey into Ethics and the Physical Chemistry of Free Will (pg. 33). University Press of America.
18. Compton, Arthur H. (1935). The Freedom of Man (pgs. 11-12). Yale University Press.
19. Fowler, Michael. (c.2010). “Models of the Atom”, Lectures, University of Virginia.
20. (a) History of knot theory – Wikipedia.
(b) Sossinsky, Alexei (2002). Knots, Mathematics with a Twist (pgs. 3-10). Harvard University Press.
21. Ostwald, Wilhelm. (c.1908). “Quote”, in: Grundriss der allgemeinen Chemie (4th ed., 1909), Preface, as cited by Erwin N. Hiebert and Hans-Gunther Korber in article on Ostwald in Charles Coulston Gillespie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography Supplement 1, Vol 15-16, 464.
23. Dawes, Gregory W. (2012). Theism and Explanation (pg. #). Routledge.
24. Stenger, Victor J. (2013). God and the Atom: from Democritus to the Higgs Boson: the Story of a Triumphant Idea (pgs. 49, 55). Prometheus Books.

Further reading
● Wurtz, Charles A. (1880). The Atomic Theory. C. Kegan Paul & Co.
● Thomson, J.J. (1914). The Atomic Theory. Oxford.
● Bailey, Cyril. (1928). The Greek Atomists and Epicurus. Oxford University Press.
● Gregory, Joshua C. (1931). A Short History of Atomism from Democritus to Bohr. A & C. Black.

External links
Atomic theory – Wikipedia.
Atomism – Wikipedia.
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