History of Chemistry & Atomic Theory

Oct 2017
356
America ??
Can anyone provide a concise history or explanation of the development of chemistry, atomic theory, & other fields or aspects relevant to the evolution of modern chemistry?

Unlike other natural sciences like biology & physics which are much easier to imagine how they evolved by generations of observation & experimentation, I’m trying to figure out how something as invisible, unimaginably small, abstract, & overall far removed from our sensory perception, as atomic theory is, came to develop.

Indeed, most scientists & professionals I’ve inquired with about this acknowledge & agree that understanding & mastering chemistry & atomic theory is mostly a matter of memorization due to how abstract & far removed from our senses it is, much more so than other sciences. Though of course as the central science, chemistry is fundamental to other sciences as we’ll, as all science is to each other, as is history, which is why understanding chemistry is vital to understanding anything else. Maths might be the only science whose only requirement is the mind alone. Indeed, maths itself is said to be abstract in nature rather than dealing with anything materialistic.

The histories & evolutions of sciences surprisingly doesn’t seem to be highly emphasized in modern science education & research, only very brief facts. History seems to be most emphasized in science regarding the development of evolutionary theory, deep time theory & natural history, how it replaced old established creationism & religious beliefs, & how it revealed so much about & saved us & the world. But as a scientist-philosopher, I feel that having even a minimal understanding of the history of science, as with anything, is important to understanding & mastering them effectively. Along with other importances of knowing history, to not know history is akin to having amnesia, particularly for societies & cultures. It’s often said that many people take modern science for granted to the extent that it has become akin to an established religious belief for them. Extreme atheists seem to fall into that category; who knows, creationism & religious beliefs may have extents of truth to them after all; while good scientists acknowledge that agnosticism is the best approach to religious beliefs as conclusions can only be made for what can be definitely observed; & that absence of proof doesn’t mean proof of absence.

While humans may be curious & improvising by nature, people often forget that humanity wasn’t born with our modern scientific knowledge nor received it from the sky or in dreams, but was a result of efforts through generations of history, but actually most particularly the scientific revolution, & also that nothing in our biology suggests that we ought to or were destined to know modern sense-defying science either, so I feel that we should be grateful for & admire that.

See my other thread for further insight to what I mean;
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,605
Dispargum
The Ancient Greeks first came up with an Atomic theory through deductive reasoning. The argument went something like: Take two objects that seemingly have nothing in common - spiders and stars. There are certain qualities about spiders that make them spidery, and there are certain qualities about stars that make them star-like. Cut a spider and a star in half and you can still identify it as part of a spider or part of a star. Cut the halves in half again. Keep cutting the pieces into smaller and smaller pieces until eventually you get something that can no longer be identified as part of spider or part of a star. At this point, you have atoms. The Greeks went on to deduce that there were four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Everything was made up of combinations of these four elements. OK, so they were wrong about a few things, but as far as I know, it's the first Atomic Theory.
 
Oct 2017
356
America ??
The Ancient Greeks first came up with an Atomic theory through deductive reasoning. The argument went something like: Take two objects that seemingly have nothing in common - spiders and stars. There are certain qualities about spiders that make them spidery, and there are certain qualities about stars that make them star-like. Cut a spider and a star in half and you can still identify it as part of a spider or part of a star. Cut the halves in half again. Keep cutting the pieces into smaller and smaller pieces until eventually you get something that can no longer be identified as part of spider or part of a star. At this point, you have atoms. The Greeks went on to deduce that there were four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Everything was made up of combinations of these four elements. OK, so they were wrong about a few things, but as far as I know, it's the first Atomic Theory.
Indeed they’re the earliest known record for the path to atomic theory, or at least for the West I believe, but is far removed from & doesn’t explain how we came to know the modern abstract concept of atoms. Alchemy seems to have mainly been concerned & dealt with observable reactions & products, but far from anything like atomic theory.

All animals & humans that have not been exposed to modern science know the world only through their senses; even the mind’s construction of things that have not been directly observed with one’s own senses, is still by means of human senses, as the most basic form of mutual understanding & agreement between humans is that by the senses, & I wouldn’t be very surprised if that’s the case for other animals as well, but only humans are known to have escaped our sensory limits.
It was the invention of the microscope & telescope during the Renaissance or Scientific Revolution that was the first step to enabling humanity to know the world that’s outside of human sensory limits, & eventually to reveal that the world or universe itself is a construction of our senses & is thus akin to a shadow, & it turns out that our sensory world is only a small fraction of the actual matter & energy that science reveals to be around us.

So what I’m trying to figure out is how did humanity bridge the gap between the limits of human sensory perception & observation, with one of the most far removed-from-our-senses & imagination aspects of nature or science; that is atomic theory & chemistry.
 
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Mar 2019
1,972
Kansas
So I’m trying to figure out how humanity bridged the gap between the limits of human sensory perception & observation, with one of the most far removed from our senses & imagination aspects of nature or science.
Basically the answer is maths

It meant we could describe a phenomena without directly observing the phenomena. Once the maths of the particular thing you are studying is proved, then you can begin extrapolating further and further.
 
Oct 2017
356
America ??
Damn the edit time limit!

I was editing the last paragraph of my OP on that since our biology, animal neighbors, archaeological & even historical records all doesn’t suggest that we absolutely ought to or were destined to have developed modern science, civilization, nor even settled living & agriculture for that matter, because of how unnatural or peculiar or singular they are in nature, which means that all those could have never happened in alternate histories, & therefore to know modern sense-defying science, as our biology suggests that we were designed to just fulfill our basic needs, but humanity has gone far out of the way of that, but ironically humanity needed modern science to prove that in the first place, so I feel that we should be grateful for & admire that, & I feel that one of the best ways of doing that is by properly understanding & thus appreciating history, don’t you too?
 
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Oct 2017
356
America ??
Basically the answer is maths

It meant we could describe a phenomena without directly observing the phenomena. Once the maths of the particular thing you are studying is proved, then you can begin extrapolating further and further.
Indeed, as with for many other things.

Don’t suppose you could explain further could you?

History in general does that; bridges the gap between our sensory limits & gross anatomy with modern science, not to mention the modern world, following the points I made above, which is why I feel that good scientists should be familiar with history, & good historians should probably likewise be familiar with science as well, to avoid falling prey to following blind judgement like stereotypical sheep.
 
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Mar 2019
1,972
Kansas
Don’t suppose you could explain further could you?
Okay take gravity. We experience it every day, it is part of our existence. Newton sits down and creates maths that consistently explain gravity, how it will affect things we can not directly observe.

So all of a sudden we have a theory of how to throw something into the air hard enough that it will go into orbit. We suddenly understand why the planets orbits are not perfectly circular. We finally prove the mechanism to explain how the Sun is the center of the Solar System.

Then someone comes along and says, that's all good and well. But the orbit of Mercury is wrong.

Enter Albert Einstein, he comes up with some more maths that describe space as a fabric (Space Time Continuum) In doing so he invents a whole bunch of very exotic locations that his equations say must exist.

We spend the next 70 years discovering most of the places that his maths claim exists.

Then someone comes along and says. But the orbit of galaxies is all wrong

Science says........hold my beer and comes up with the maths to explain dark matter and dark energy.
 
Oct 2017
356
America ??
Basically the answer is maths

It meant we could describe a phenomena without directly observing the phenomena. Once the maths of the particular thing you are studying is proved, then you can begin extrapolating further and further.
Don’t suppose you could explain how this relates to the development of chemistry & atomic theory could you?