History The idea that all matter is composed of elementary particles dates to at least the 6th century BC. The philosophical doctrine of atomism and the nature of elementary particles were studied by ancient Greek philosophers such as Leucippus, Democritus and Epicurus; ancient Indian philosophers such as Kanada, Dignāga and Dharmakirti; medieval scientists such as Alhazen, Avicenna and Algazel; and early modern European physicists such as Pierre Gassendi, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. The particle theory of light was also proposed by Alhazen, Avicenna, Gassendi and Newton. These early ideas were founded in abstract, philosophical reasoning rather than experimentation and empirical observation. In the 19th century, John Dalton, through his work on stoichiometry, concluded that each element of nature was composed of a single, unique type of particle. Dalton and his contemporaries believed these were the fundamental particles of nature and thus named them atoms, after the Greek word atomos, meaning "indivisible". However, near the end of the century, physicists discovered that atoms
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