“Miss Agnes Clerke writes in Knowledge, ‘The glory of the heavens is transitory, but the impalpable, invisible ether inconceivably remains. Such as it is today, it already was when the Fiat Lux was spoken; its beginning must have been coeval with that of time. It is evasive of common notice, while obtrusive to delicate scrutiny. It does not perceptibly arrest, absorb, or scatter light. Looking, however, below the surface of things, we find the semi-fabulous quintessence to be unobtrusively doing all the world’s work. The potencies of matter are rooted in it; the substance of matter is latent in it.’”
—Scientific American, November 1904
More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our anniversary archive page.