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It is evident that in earlier years, Greeks thought that there are only four elements which made up the universe. These four elements were; earth, fire, air and water. Going by the definition what an element is i.e. an element is a substance which cannot be divided or transformed to another material by any chemical process. In simpler terms an element can be defined as basic substances that are combined to form matter. From these two definitions, it is very correct to say that water, fire, air and earth are elements. The ratio that was found between these four elements significantly affected the properties that defined matter (Tuplin, 2002).
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If I were an ancient Greek student and was told to choose from a list consisting coal, fog, bread and a drop of honey to decide which of the four is an element, I would have chosen a drop of honey, mud and bread. Going by the definition of what an element is, fog, bread and a drop of honey cannot be divided or transformed to any other substance by any chemical process (Tuplin, 2002). On the other hand coal cannot be categorized to be an element due to the fact that it can be broken down to form graphite and diamond. Through chemical bonding, coal can form huge numbers of chemically combined molecule that forms graphite.
According to Keyser (2001), Greeks experienced the difficulty in classifying which elements made up living things. It is still evident that even to date scientist are still researching on which kind of elements are comprise in a living things. Using the four element system that was constantly used by the Greeks I would conclude that human beings and other living things consist of the both water and fire elements. The combination of both water and fire within human beings made them soft and able to obtain life. These two elements are found in the form of glucose, calcium phosphate, glycine and water in living things. Due to the presence of water in all living things, living things can be classified as water elements.
According to Tuplin, (2002), Lightening is another subject that the Greeks found hard and confusing to classify. From the definition that lightening is an atmospheric release of electricity which is normally accompanied by thunder, as a Greek student I would have classified it as an element. This is because electricity is the flow of electrons and electrons are tiny particles that form atoms. Elements are those tiny substances that form an atom therefore lightening can be classified as a fire element by the use of the four element system.
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Just like other systems that distinguish different elements, the four element system consisted of some down falls. For instance, a stone which was perceived to contain a large amount of earth but no matter how much you break it into smaller pieces it really did not give any resemblance of the four core elements i.e. earth, water, air and fire (Keyser, 2001). The Greeks classified air as an elements but it is very clear that air is a mixture of gases it will be therefore wrong to classify it as an element.
The four element system clearly indicated that the Greek did not a clear understanding of substances that make up different objects. Although the four element system did not give a clear understanding of matter, it is evident that it highly contributed to the revolution in sciences. This theory of water, air, fire and earth is considered to be importance in the development of modern science because of its definition of substances which resembled pure materials consisted of a combination of various elements.