The public’s interest in science accelerated at breakneck speed throughout the nineteenth century and into the next. The number of scientific books published for the layman (and for children) during this period hints at a reading public eager to explore the applications of so much new knowledge. With the steam locomotive, travel between major cities was reduced from days to hours. Some adventurous travelers were already flying around in a variety of airships. Electricity, among the most mysterious forces of all, was domesticated: it found its way into homes and public buildings, onto streets, and even into jewelry. There was a hunger to understand and to experience, and many of the books in the Vail Collection demonstrate the publishing industry’s attempt to satisfy that hunger.