Re: virus: RE: virus Carbon atoms

James Veverka (
Fri, 7 May 1999 12:49:24 -0400 (EDT)


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Cheryl........ here is a little summary I found at

The notion that matter is made up of small, indivisible particles goes back to the ancient Greeks. In the sixth century BCE, thinkers began asking questions about what is the basic underlying reality of the world. In view of the constant change we see in the world around us, is there some substratum (physis, hence our word physics) that is constant? If so, is it material or immaterial, accessible through the senses or only through the mind, is it one or many? Over the next several centuries, these questions were answered in several different ways. Some believed that all was change, others that change was illusory. The Pythagoreans thought that the physis was "number" and pioneered the mathematical approach to nature. Their idealist approach was in stark contrast to that of the materialists, among whom the atomists were most prominent. Leucippus of Miletus (ca. 435 BCE) and Democritus of Abdera (ca. 410 BCE) developed the atomic hypothesis. According to them matter can be subdivided only to a certain point, at which only atoms (that which cannot be cut) remain. The world is made up of atoms moving in the void. Atoms differed from each other only in size and shape, and different substances with their distinct qualities were made up of different shapes, arrangements, and positions of atoms. Atoms were in continuous motion in the infinite void and constantly collided with each other. During these collisions they could rebound or stick together because of hooks and barbs on their surfaces. Thus, underlying the changes in the perceptible world, there was constancy (atoms were neither created nor destroyed); change was caused by the combinations and dissociations of the atoms. Democritus gave some examples of how the atomic hypothesis could account for qualities such as color and taste (sharp tastes are caused by sharp atoms), but on the whole atomism, like other contemporary global theories, remained a general theory. It was criticized by Aristotle (384-322 BCE) for some of its logical inconsistencies[1] and for its inability to explain qualities (color, taste, odor, etc.) that we call (after Galileo) secondary qualities. Aristotle's matter theory was fundamentally qualitative: qualities were built into the fundamental building blocks that made up substances. And against the atomists' idea of a nature without design or purpose, Aristotle constructed a natural philosophy that made nature a purposeful agent. In the philosophical system of Epicurus (341-270 BCE), physics was subordinated to ethics. The aim of his philosophy was to overcome irrational fears of natural phenomena and to achieve peace of mind. Epicurus explained natural phenomena by atomism, but he made several modifications to the doctrine in view of Aristotle's criticisms. He distinguished between physical and mathematical divisibility and gave atoms weight.


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Subject: virus: RE: virus Carbon atoms
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Thanks, James

By the way,
Are you referring to the concept that intelligent beings have been here before, or to the *concept* that carbon has 6e, 6n, 6p?

Any references to ancient greek knowledge would be appreciated.