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Atomic theory proposed by John Dalton

Dalton's theory was based on the premise that the atoms of different elements could be
distinguished by differences in their weights. He stated his theory in a lecture to the Royal
Institution in 1803. The theory proposed a number of basic ideas:

All matter is composed of atoms


Atoms cannot be made or destroyed
All atoms of the same element are identical
Different elements have different types of atoms
Chemical reactions occur when atoms are rearranged
Compounds are formed from atoms of the constituent elements.

Using his theory, Dalton rationalized the various laws of chemical combination which were in
existence at that time. However, he made a mistake in assuming that the simplest compound of
two elements must be binary, formed from atoms of each element in a 1:1 ratio, and his system of
atomic weights was not very accurate - he gave oxygen an atomic weight of seven instead of
eight.
Despite these errors, Dalton's theory provided a logical explanation of concepts, and led the way
into new fields of experimentation.

John Dalton (1766-1844) was an English chemist with a Quaker background. His religious
beliefs, and perhaps his modesty, prevented him from accepting much of deserved fame and
recognition. Today Dalton is known primarily for his atomic theory, although his inquisitive nature
and diligent research led him to make many important discoveries in fields rather than chemistry.
He made a careful study of color-blindness, a good condition from which he suffered. Dalton was
also a pioneer meteorologist, keeping daily records of the weather for 57 years. His fascination
with weather and the atmosphere led to his research into the nature of gases, which turn became
the foundation on which he built his atomic theory.