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  • An 'I've Got A Secret' Contestant Witnessed The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln on Random Most Surprising Things We Learned In 2022

    (#1) An 'I've Got A Secret' Contestant Witnessed The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln

    Born in 1860, Samuel J. Seymour of Maryland was a guest on I've Got a Secret in 1956 at the age of 96, when he told the panel and audience that he witnessed the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. 

    In 1865, at the age of 5, Seymour, his nurse Sarah Cook, and his godmother Mrs. George S. Goldsborough went to see Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre. He recalled sitting in balcony seats across from the Presidential Box when he witnessed John Wilkes Booth leap from the box, and President Lincoln fall over.

    Seymour was one of around 1,500 people present during Lincoln's assassination. 

  • Gin and tonic on Random Most Surprising Things We Learned In 2022

    (#12) Gin and tonic

    • Beverage

    Malaria in colonial India was a major problem for British citizens and soldiers and, as a result, they relied on quinine to combat the disease. Derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, quinine was popular with European settlers in South America during the 17th century as an anti-fever drug. In colonial India, it was again used for fevers, and due to its bitterness, was usually mixed with soda water and sugar.

    The bubbly beverage soon became a new drink - tonic water; the first patents for it appeared as early as 1858. Schweppes tonic water entered the market in 1870 as "Indian Quinine Tonic" and was mixed with alcohol, namely gin

    The addition of gin to quinine and tonic water had been taking place for decades by the time commercial concoctions came on the scene. In British India, a daily gin and tonic was essential to maintaining imperial control. Part medicinal and part social, imbibing these cocktails became part of life for British expatriates. When they returned to England or ventured to other parts of the world, gin-and-tonic drinkers took their affinity for the beverage with them.  

  • Total Eclipse of the Heart on Random Most Surprising Things We Learned In 2022

    (#9) Total Eclipse of the Heart

    • Musical Album

    American composer, lyricist, and record producer Jim Steinman originally penned "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1983 - for a musical adaptation of the classic vampire movie Nosferatu. 

    Despite being inspired by the total darkness of a full moon eclipse, the song's original title was "Vampires in Love," and Steinman once mentioned that anyone who listened to the lyrics could quickly realize that the song was referring to romance found in vampiric darkness. 

    Steinman was also surprised that he was asked to work with singer Bonnie Tyler on the project, as he usually worked with Meat Loaf and other artists who were more hard rock or heavy metal than pop. Still, Steinman loved Tyler's voice and was excited to take on the challenge of moving into a different genre. Although the song never appeared in the musical version of Nosferatu, it did make an appearance on stage and in the playbill of another musical, Dance of the Vampires.

  • Benjamin Franklin on Random Most Surprising Things We Learned In 2022

    (#6) Benjamin Franklin

    • Notable Figure

    Books were incredibly expensive in the 18th century. Consequently, British publishers often combined helpful information regarding numerous subjects - including math, recipes, the alphabet, history, and other topics useful for the typical family. Recognizing a clever, practical idea when he saw one, Benjamin Franklin decided to pen an American version of the popular texts for colonial households. 

    To create the perfect publication, the inventor looked to British author George Fisher's The Instructor for inspiration. While Franklin made a few tweaks to some of the information - like changing city lists to reflect the map of the American colonies and providing a brief history of the nation - he added an entirely new collection from a 1734 Virginia medical handbook. Called Every Man His Own Doctor: The Poor Planter's Physician, the content walked readers through home remedies for numerous ailments, including "the suppression of the courses" (menstruation).

    The text gave detailed instructions for the application and uses of herbs known to have abortifacient and contraceptive properties. After reading it, Ohio State University professor Molly Farrell, who specializes in early American literature, noted:

    It's just sort of a greatest hits of what 18th-century herbalists would have given a woman who wanted to end a pregnancy early… It's very explicit, very detailed, [and] also very accurate for the time in terms of what was known at the time….

  • Australia on Random Most Surprising Things We Learned In 2022

    (#13) Australia

    • Country

    Humans have tried to dominate nature since the dawn of time. For Australia in 1932, this uncontrollable force of nature turned out to be... emus. 

    Emus, the third-largest birds in the world (after ostriches and cassowaries), are flightless and can sprint at speeds of up to 20 mph. Their native homeland is Australia, and for farmers in the 1930s, the birds' migration habits caused problems. Australian farmers were already struggling amid an economic depression, and when emus began migrating inward during breeding season, they began eating the farmers' crops. In response, the Australian government declared war on the emus, and a group of ex-soldiers took up arms against the birds. 

    Emus proved to be a tough enemy; they scattered in small groups and were difficult to exterminate. After just one month, the soldiers withdrew from the field of combat. Although the number of emus felled is unknown, today they remain one of the most common animals in Australia.

  • Lightning Can Absolutely Strike The Same Place Twice on Random Most Surprising Things We Learned In 2022

    (#17) Lightning Can Absolutely Strike The Same Place Twice

    It's highly likely that lightning will strike in the same place more than once, especially if it hits an exceptionally tall and protruding object. The Empire State Building, for example, is struck approximately 25 times a year. 

    Also, just because the sky is clear doesn't mean that outdoor enthusiasts should ignore warning signs of an impending storm. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to become a physical danger - even if there isn't a cloud in sight. 

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