Most metals when molten are capable of dissolving at least small proportions of carbon, which, in general, leads to a deterioration in metallicity, except in the case of iron, which by the addition of small percentages of carbon gains in elasticity and tensile strength with little loss of plasticity (see Iron).
To what extent such responses are transmitted to offspring, and what part they play in the formation of the adaptive characters that are conspicuous in many animals, remain dubious, but it is at least clear that natural selection can favour those individuals and those races which show the greatest power of responsive plasticity in the individual.
But their most characteristic, though not perhaps their most general, property is that they combine in themselves the apparently incompatible properties of elasticity and rigidity on the one hand and plasticity on the other.
Clay can never become dry, plasticity and ductility are, for reasons to be explained below, the first consideration, and there the proportion of grit should be lower.
From the time of Pyrrho overlapping Aristotle himself, who seems to have been well content to use the feints of more than one school among his predecessors, while showing that none of them could claim to get past his guard, down through a period in which the decadent academy under Carneades, otherwise dogmatic in its negations, supplied new thrusts and parries, to Aenesidemus in the late Ciceronian age, and again to Sextus Empiricus, there seems to have been something of plasticity and continuous progress.
For De Maillet not only has a definite conception of the plasticity of living things, and of the production of existing species by the modification of their predecessors, but he clearly apprehends the cardinal maxim of modern geological science, that the explanation of the structure of the globe is to be sought in the deductive application to geological phenomena of the principles established inductively by the study of the present course of nature.
Nothing better shows the plasticity of her character than the ease with which she adapted herself to this sudden change.