History of Chemistry


Who first proposed the idea of elements?

Plato is often given this accolade as he was the first to use this term for his description of the five basic shapes that he believed made up the entire universe: tetrahedrons, icosahedrons, dodecahedrons, octahedrons, and cubes. He went on to ascribe each shape to a basic element, borrowing from Empedocles (see next question). The tetrahedron was fire; icosahedron, water; dodecahedron, aether; octahedron, air; cube, earth. While this association of basic geometrical shapes to the nature of the Universe obviously didn’t work out for him, Plato’s ideas did lead Euclid to invent geometry.


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