I have been reading a few old texts from around the turn of the 20th C. and have noticed that in at least two there is mention of the aether in connection with electromagnetic phenomena. In these texts a statement to the effect of "the space around the coil is altered in some way by the passage of current in the wire". Or one even says "the medium surrounding the magnet is clearly stressed by the flow of charge..." These are intriguing statements that have an undertone of some deep intuition on the part of the writers. We know now that the "medium" of the aether is nonexistent . But is it really? Maybe it isn't a gaseous fluid such as early thinkers thought, but is it any less real? The modern quantum vacuum, while far stranger than anything 19th C minds were grasping, is for every aspect as far as classical EM is concerned, the aether is it not? Space being filled with this quantum fluid, as it sometimes behaves, makes alot of things intuitively satisfying. The spatial "stresses" of electric and magnetic fields, the propagation of light through "empty" space, maybe even inertia seem to "feel better" in this view. Am I just totally off base with this? I know there are some semantics between old and new descriptions of phenomena, and even new ideas that didn't exist in the aether heyday. But were the Grand Old Men of electrodynamics, who clearly possessed some sort of deep physical intuition on the nature of matter, all that wrong?