De C. du Fay on the conductivity of some bodies for the electric agency and the dual character of electrification gave rise to the first notions of ., electricity as an imponderable fluid, or non-gravitative subtile matter, of a more refined and penetrating kind than ordinary liquids and gases.
In the eyes of a Chinese connoisseur, no blue-and-white porcelain worthy of consideration exists, or ever has existed, except the kai-pien-yao, with its imponderable pdle, its wax-like surface, and its rich, glowing blue, entirely free from superficiality or garishness and broken into a thousand tints by the microscopic crackle of the glaze.
Gauss had shown how to reduce all the phenomena of statical electricity to mere attractions and repulsions exerted at a distance by particles of an imponderable on one another.
He not only agrees with Laplace and Lyell about the evolution of the solar system, but also supposes that the affinities, pointed out by Lothar Meyer and Mendeleeff, between groups of chemical elements prove an evolution of these elements from a primitive matter (prothyl) consisting of homogeneous atoms. These, however, are not ultimate enough for him; he thinks that everything, ponderable and imponderable or ether, is evolved from a primitive substance, which condenses first into centres of condensation (pyknatoms), and then into masses, which when they exceed the mean consistency become ponderables, and when they fall below it become imponderables.
Regarding heat (matiere de feu or fluide igne) as a peculiar kind of imponderable matter, Lavoisier held that the three states of aggregation - solid, liquid and gas - were modes of matter, each depending on the amount of matiere de feu with which the ponderable substances concerned were interpenetrated and combined; and this view enabled him correctly to anticipate that gases would be reduced to liquids and solids by the influence of cold and pressure.