Democritus was an Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher best known for developing an atomic theory of the universe. Democritus was born in Abdera, Thrace, around 460 BC, though the exact year is unknown. In Thrace, Democritus studied under Leucippus. His influential work includes his atomic theory of the universe, which earned him the title “Father of Modern Science.”
Democritus, along with his teacher, had developed a theory that all elements are made up of atoms long before Socrates.
This theory served as the foundation for the understanding of atoms that nineteenth-century researchers used for atomic theory.
While Democritus’ work went largely unnoticed in Greece due to its focus on science rather than philosophy, Aristotle was drawn to it.
Democritus, as a wealthy heir, is said to have spent his inheritance on travel in order to learn from scholars from other cultures.
These journeys are thought to have taken them from Greece to India to the east and Ethiopia to the south.
A number of writings mention Democritus and his personality, with many depictions of him laughing adorning artists’ works, owing to his disdain for human error.
Other descriptions of him allude to his stoic, purpose-driven nature, claiming that he was so focused on acquiring knowledge that he had no time for other distractions.
Regarding Democritus’ atomic theory, it is widely assumed that he and Leucippus developed it together because their names appear together in so many writings on the subject from that time period.
He proposed that the actual shapes of the atoms corresponded to the physical properties of the element from which they were formed, such as strong atoms for a strong metallic element or malleable atoms for a soft substance.
Democritus was also interested in the void hypothesis popularized by Parmenides, as well as epistemology.
Democritus also contributed to the fields of math and science, including biology and anthropology.