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Democritus

2000 years ago there lived a wise old man in the ancient Greece .   Everyone – from the King to the lowly peasants – called him “the universal genius”.  With his great learning and knowledge, he held everyone in awe.  His name was Democritus. In Greek ‘Demos’ means people.

This genius was born in the 5th century B.C. in a place called Abdera , Thrace .  His father was wealthy and a highly-influential figure in Greek because of his closeness to the king of Persia , Xerxes.  The king dined in his house, discussing with Democritus’ father, the day-to-day affairs of his Kingdom.  Because of his influence and wealth, Democritus was able to travel to many parts of the ancient world like India , Africa , and Middle-east to share and acquire knowledge from learned men from those countries.

After his return to Greek, he spent much of his time in studying and writing on various subjects.  He studied and observed the animals, birds, and plant species and dissected them and wrote his findings.  He theorized about magnetism, lightning and thunder. He speculated that everything that was around us was made of atoms and that they were indestructible. He theorized that there was countless number of atoms and that there were empty spaces between them.  His theories and formulas on atoms and astronomy astounded everyone in and around Greece .

Democritus, though highly learned believed in simplicity and modesty.  After his wealthy father died, he and his two brothers were left with enormous wealth. He gave away most of his share of wealth to his brothers and was content with a small amount. 

He was well known for his cheerfulness. According to some writers, Democritus always looked at the funny side of people and laughed at them. His comical way of looking at peoples’ foolishness and poking fun at them earned him the name “the laughing abderite”.

He lived in the caves and graveyards so that he would be left alone to work on his studies and writings.  One story has it that he purposely blinded himself so that his mental faculties would remain sharp and also to be less disturbed by his fellow Abderites who flocked to him to seek advice and learn from his vast knowledge.  He founded neither a school nor built up a contingent of followers, and yet he was a national institution in his days.  His name still lives on and his contribution to the scientific communities will never be forgotten.

Quotes by Democritus:
Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds.
By desiring little, a poor man makes himself rich.
- Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth; the former course is foolish, the latter a mark of prudence.

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