The atom is considered to be the basic unit of matter. Atoms consists of a nucleus, that contains protons and neutrons, and electrons, that are believed to occupy an set of electron shells. Atoms are very tiny objects and can only be observed with specialized equipment such as a scanning tunneling microscope. Certain atoms can combine to create molecules, the most commonly known molecule is H2O (water), which consists of two hydrogen atoms bonded with a single oxygen atom.
Who discovered the atom?
The atom might seem like a recent discovery, but early Greek and Indian philosophers came up with the idea of the atom being an indivisible and invisible component of matter. The word atom is actually from the Greek word átomos, which means cannot be divided further. However, these early theories were just guesses and not true discoveries.
It wasn’t until the 17th century that chemists showed that some substances could not be broken down further. In 1805 John Dalton proposed the idea that each element consisted of atoms and that these could form together to create compounds. Today, John Dalton is considered to be the father of the modern atomic theory.
Much work was done after John Dalton proposed the theory of atoms, but it was physicist J. J. Thomson who, in 1897, discovered the electron. This was the inspiration for the modern idea of electron’s rotating around the nucleus of the atom in rings. Over a century later atomic theory is well developed and taught in schools across the world.