DemocritusDemocritus is a well-known pre-Socratic Greek philosopher – who came before Socrates. He is a very famous Greek philosopher due to the discovery of the atomic theory. The research he did on atoms makes him more likely a scientist than a philosopher. Therefore, he was given the title of father of modern science. Due to his smiling nature and making fun of others’ mistakes, he is also known as the laughing philosopher.

Life Span – Biography

Democritus was born in Abdera, a local government of Thrace, Greece in 460 BC. He acquired most of the education on his own. His father’s name appears varying in historic records, who was a nobleman and possessed a vast portion of land. Democritus was young when his father died and left him a huge inheritance.

For higher education, he left Thrace and traveled to Ethiopia, Egypt, and India. During his stay in Egypt for five years, he learned geometry and visited the Red Sea as well. He appreciated Egyptian mathematicians back in Greece. In addition to it, he wrote on Babylonia and Meroe states while in Egypt. He explained the cultures and civilization of these two states of Mesopotamia – currently known as Iraq.

Further, he came interacted with many notable philosophers of his time during his travel. After returning to Greece, he traveled the entire country to study its diverse cultures. Historic records show that Democritus was not interested in worldly pleasures and material gains. Rather, he was more focused on gaining knowledge as much as possible. He worked on ethics, astronomy, philosophy, mathematics, and politics.

Democritus is known to have written 70 books that couldn’t survive long enough. Even historians suggest that Plato, the Greek philosopher, who came after him didn’t like his ideas and had his books burned. He died at the age of 90 years in 370 BC in Greece.

Contributions and Discoveries

The foundation works of science and philosophy trackback to Democritus. His unending thirst for knowledge helped him discover mathematical concepts and contribute to other subjects widely studied and researched during his time.

  • Concept of Atoms – It states that everything is made up of atoms, they can’t be divided or broken further. They’re in constant motion and vary in shapes and sizes. This atomic concept was taken from his book ‘Little World-Order’.
  • Geometry – Democritus’ major discovery was the triangle to cone ratio; he stated that the volume of a triangle is one-third of the cone.
  • Philosophy – He held the concept that everything which happens is due to natural laws. However, he did not put the reasoning in his thought to consider the purpose behind the occurrence of it.

Interesting Facts

  • Theory on atoms by Democritus opened the door of modern science which remained untouched by others, and therefore, he earned the title “the father of modern science”.
  • Democritus claimed that hardly anyone would have traveled to farther parts of the world and met with philosophers than himself.
  • He holds the titles of being a philosopher and scientist at the same time due to his works on both.
  • Democritus was the teacher of Protagoras – a Greek philosopher. Protagoras was regarded as an expert by Plato.

Cite this Page

Abdul Wahab, "Democritus," in Science4Fun, June 18, 2021,