Who Was Amedeo Avogadro and Why Is Avogadro Considered the Founder of Atomic Molecular Theory?

There are many examples of a scientist’s theory being rejected in his lifetime despite its accuracy.

Sometimes, fellow scientists want to see a theory proven before they accept it.

Louis Pasteur constantly had to prove his theories to his fellow scientists. Often, believers in organized religion feel threatened by findings that oppose their beliefs.

Galileo and Charles Darwin were criticized for such “heretical” beliefs. Scientists can also feel threatened by contradictory findings, and they might dismiss a new truth rather than abandon an old idea.

This is what happened to the discoverer of the molecule.

Amedeo Avogadro was born in Turin, Italy, in 1776.

His father was a prominent lawyer and Avogadro planned to follow in his footsteps. By the time he was 20, Avogadro had earned his degree and was practicing law, but he had far more interest in mathematics and science.

Avogadro began private studies of both, and by 1809 he had learned enough to be appointed a professor of physics at Vercelli College.

Just two years later, Avogadro wrote a paper that explained many of the questions raised by John Dalton’s new findings.

Avogadro discovered the molecule, a group of atoms joined together that act like a single particle.

Like the work of Austrian botanist Gregor Mendel in genetics half a century later, Avogadro’s work would be ignored during his lifetime. He died in 1856, an unknown in the science world.

Avogadro inherited the title of count from his father at the age of 11, and is considered the founder of Atomic Molecular Theory.