Some were condensing air into a dry tangible substance, by extracting the nitre, and letting the aqueous or fluid particles percolate; others softening marble, for pillows and pin-cushions; others petrifying the hoofs of a living horse, to preserve them from foundering.
There are no more uses of "percolate" in the book.
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Knowledge does not just come from the top down. It also percolates from the bottom up.
Had it percolated gradually through the years until now?