Practically everything around us is matter, but how did the first scientists figure that out? What is matter made of?

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

We are completely surrounded by matter. The air is matter, the chair your sitting in is matter, your clothes are latter, the bacteria living on your skin is matter. You are matter. Everything is matter! At some point in history, matter needed to be defined, and it wasn’t easy. How do you define something that is literally everything?

In Ancient Greece, Thales of Milete was a famous “natural philosopher” -- today’s equivalent of a scientist. He and his peers set out to figure out the form and organization of the universe.  They started thinking that  all existence must be made of something-- and they set out to figure out just what that something was. Thales decided nature was made of “matter”-- but he wasn’t quite sure what matter was.

Then in the 1600s, Robert Hooke discovered the cell. 200 years later, in 1803 John Dalton theorized the idea of indivisible, indestructible atoms. In 1897, J.J. Thomson discovered the electron, and in 1911 Ernest Rutherford discovered the proton. Since then we’ve discovered quarks, leptons, fermions, and more. We’re still finding bits today!

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