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There were five basic ideas in Dalton's chemical atomic theory. 1. Chemical elements are made of atoms Elements are made up of minute, discrete, indivisible, and indestructible particles called atoms

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Introduction

John Dalton (1766-1844) was a British physicist and meteorologist, known for his contributions to the atomic theory. He was born in Eaglesfield, Cumbria, of Quaker parents. He was educated at the Quaker village school and was so successful that at the age of 12 he himself became a teacher. In 1781 he was appointed assistant at the Quaker school in Kendal and four years later became joint principal. There he came under the influence of the blind scientist John Gough, who taught him mathematics, as well as meteorology and botany. There were five basic ideas in Dalton's chemical atomic theory. 1. Chemical elements are made of atoms Elements are made up of minute, discrete, indivisible, and indestructible particles called atoms. ...read more.

Middle

The idea that all atoms of a given chemical element weigh the same is known today to be incorrect. Also, the concept of chemical combination in 1803 was much, much different than what Dalton was proposing. Although Dalton was well-known at the time, the most authoritative chemist of the period was Claude Louis Berthollet. Even many years later, Berthollet resisted the idea of the atom: that elements combine in small, whole number ratios that are fixed. Even into the late 1800's, there were French chemists who used their authority to punish lesser colleagues and students who publically supported the chemical atomic theory and he was the first, in 1798, to observe a reversible reaction. 3. Atoms of different elements have different masses Although this idea is implicit in Dalton's theory, it is not original with him. ...read more.

Conclusion

This point gives immediate explanation to the Law of Definite Proportions, announced by Joseph Louis Proust in 1797. During his research, Dalton discovered the Law of Multiple Proportions, another law, which is easily explained by his atomic theory. Dalton discovered this law while studying some of the oxides of nitrogen. The law is: Atoms of the same element can unite in more than one ratio with another element to form more than one compound. 5. Atoms can be neither created nor destroyed A fifth idea implied in Dalton's theory, but usually not discussed is this: atoms can be neither created nor destroyed. An element's atoms do not change into other element's atoms by chemical reactions. For example, nitrogen and oxygen atoms stay as they even when combined. They can be recovered by decomposing the substance. ...read more.

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