Back in 1850, a group of investors in Connecticut and New York had an idea. Perhaps some of that oil oozing out of the ground in Pennsylvania could be used as a fuel, one that could replace whale oil, which was in short supply. They hired a retired railroad conductor with nothing better to do and asked him to try drilling for oil the way people drilled for water. Edwin Drake surprised everyone, including himself, when he struck oil. Daniel Yergin has written about the first oil strike, 150 years ago this week, and its consequences in The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.