Fortunately more sober types were at work elsewhere. In 1808, a dour Quaker named John Dalton became the first person to intimate the nature of an atom (progress that will be discussed more completely a little further on), and in 1811 an Italian with the splendidly operatic name of Lorenzo Romano Amadeo Carlo Avogadro, Count of Quarequa and Cerreto, made a discovery that would prove highly significant in the long term—namely, that two equal volumes of gases of any type, if kept at the same pressure and temperature, will contain identical numbers of molecules.
Two things were notable about Avogadro's Principle, as it became known. First, it provided a basis for more accurately measuring the size and weight of atoms. Using Avogadro's mathematics, chemists were eventually able to work out, for instance, that a typical atom had a diameter of 0.00000008 centimeters, which is very little indeed. And second, almost no one knew about Avogadro's appealingly simple principle for almost fifty years.