Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Dalton's Atomic Theory


    The idea of atoms had been proposed much earlier. The ancient Greek philosophers had talked about atoms, but Dalton's theory was different in that it had the weight of careful chemical measurements behind it. It wasn't just a philosophical statement that there are atoms because there must be atoms. His atomic theory, stated that elements consisted of tiny particles called atoms. He said that the reason an element is pure is because all atoms of an element were identical and that in particular they had the same mass. He also said that the reason elements differed from one another was that atoms of each element were different from one another; in particular, they had different masses. He also said that compounds consisted of atoms of different elements combined together. Compounds are pure substances (remember they cannot be separated into elements by phase changes) because the atoms of different elements are bonded to one another somehow, perhaps by hooks, and are not easily separated from one another. Compounds have constant composition because they contain a fixed ratio of atoms and each atom has its own characteristic weight, thus fixing the weight ratio of one element to the other. In addition he said that chemical reactions involved the rearrangement of combinations of those atoms

John Dalton, in 1803 wrote down in his notebook what is now called the Dalton Atomic Theory. 

All elements consist atoms which are very small and indivisible and all atoms for a particular element are indentical in all respects

Knowing this is important and will help us understand that atoms are divisible into many smaller sub-atomic particles and that elements may have various isotopes that differ in mass.







The atom and atomic structure