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Sunday, February 8, 2015

How did atom obtain its name?

The word is derived from the Greek word "atomos", meaning indivisible. The concept of the atom originated round 440 BC. In Greek, the prefix "a" means "not" and the word "tomos" means cut. Word "atom" therefore comes from "atomos", a Greek word meaning uncuttable. 

In 1803, John Dalton formulated the "atomic theory" of matter based on experiments that quantified the weights of elements formed when compounds were broken down. Based on experimental evidence, Dalton proposed that atoms really do exist as fundamental units of all elements. 

Twentieth century physics was able to probe atoms and prove that they are not, in fact, indivisible. But the name stuck, and still has meaning in that atoms are the smallest, indivisible part of any element. If you do divide them into smaller pieces of protons, neutrons and electrons, you no longer have the original element.