the places in the world where the secrets of matter were discovered

Embark on a journey through time and space as we explore the history of human discoveries related to the atom

When did a human being have the idea that matter can be divided into smaller parts? From the ancient Greeks to modern scientists, our understanding of the universe’s fundamental building blocks has evolved with each new discovery. The wise, curious and scientific people who walked this path in the history and geography of the planet have led us to today, where we have particle accelerators that allow us to visualize these atoms that were just an idea before.

We’ll visit the places where these revolutionary discoveries were made, meet the famous scientists who brought them to light, and follow the spread of atomic ideas around the world.

Ancient Greece, birthplace of the atomic theory

Democritus

Our first destination takes us to ancient Greece, where the concept of the atom was first conceived by the philosopher Democritus in the 5th century BC. Democritus believed that all matter was composed of tiny, indivisible particles called “atoms”, which means “cannot be cut”. His ideas were later developed by other Greek philosophers such as Epicurus and Lucretius, but it would be centuries before the atom was accepted by the scientific community.

England – Dalton’s Atomic Theory

In the 19th century, English chemist John Dalton revolutionized the understanding of matter with his atomic theory. Dalton’s work, which began in the early 19th century in Manchester, England, proposed that elements were composed of tiny, indestructible particles called atoms, as proposed by Democritus. However, for Dalton, each element had its own type of atom, and these atoms combined in specific proportions to form compounds. This theory laid the foundations of modern chemistry and physics.

France – The Curies and radioactivity

Marie Curie

In Paris, at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, the couple formed by Pierre and Marie Curie discovered the phenomenon of radioactivity. His revolutionary work, carried out in a modest laboratory at the Sorbonne, led to the discovery of polonium and radium, radioactive elements that we now know emit radiation in the form of electromagnetic waves and particles. The Curies’ research provided crucial information about the structure of atoms and the forces that hold them together.

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New Zealand – Rutherford atomic model

Ernest_Rutherford_1905

Continuing our atomic journey, we arrive in New Zealand, where Ernest Rutherford performed his famous gold leaf experiment in 1909. Rutherford’s work, carried out at the University of Manchester, showed that atoms have a dense, positively charged nucleus. negatively charged electrons. This “nuclear model” of the atom has shaped our understanding of atomic structure to this day.

Denmark – The Bohr quantum model

Niels Bohr, Hendrik Lorentz, Paul Ehrenfest, Heike Kamerlight

Copenhagen, Denmark. There, physicist Niels Bohr developed his groundbreaking quantum model of the atom in the early 20th century. Bohr’s work, done at the University of Copenhagen, proposed that electrons orbit the nucleus in discrete energy levels, each level corresponding to a specific amount of energy. This model laid the foundation for quantum mechanics, a field that transformed our understanding of the atomic world.

United States – The Manhattan Project and beyond

Los_Alamos_National_Lab_D_Bldg

Our last stop is the United States, where the development of atomic theory reached new heights during the Manhattan Project. This top-secret initiative, which took place during World War II, led to the construction of the first atomic bombs. Research conducted in secret laboratories such as Los Alamos, New Mexico and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has given scientists unprecedented insight into the power and potential of atomic energy.

The story of the atom is far from over, as scientists continue to explore the deepest mysteries of matter and the forces that govern its behavior. The next big thing could be just around the corner, like nuclear fusion and the promise of endless clean energy.

Quo Science Trips section sponsored by hyundai

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