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March 12, 2024 10 mins

Human curiosity is on full display here, from the lowest of lows to high above us.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to Aaron Manke's Cabinet of Curiosities, a production of
iHeartRadio and Grimm and Mild. Our world is full of
the unexplainable, and if history is an open book, all
of these amazing tales right there on display, just waiting
for us to explore. Welcome to the Cabinet of Curiosities.

You ever get that feeling you meet somebody at a
party or sit down with a new colleague, and for
some reason you can't help but think that they seem familiar,
and at some point you just have to ask, don't
I know you from somewhere? For nineteen year old Bobby Schaffron,
it seemed everyone at Sullivan County Community College had that
same feeling. It was moving day in nineteen eighty and

a dozen people had welcomed him back to school, which
was very nice, but a little odd because Bobby was
a brand new student. And another thing. Some people were
greeting Bobby and they kept calling him by the wrong name, Eddie. Finally,
one of the other students asked him a strange question,
was he adopted? When Bobby replied yes, the student grew excited. Bobby.

He said, I think that you might have a twin.
It turned out that Bobby Schaffering looked exactly like Eddie Galland,
another student who attended the college the year before. When
Bobby met Eddie face to face, the similarities were unmistakable.
They had both been born on July twelfth of nineteen
sixty one, They were both adopted through the Louise Wise

adoption agency, and they looked exactly alike. Now, long lost
twins finding each other is already an amazing story right.
In fact, it got Bobby and Eddie on the front
page of several New York newspapers. But the truly miraculous
twist happened several days later when the boys got a
call from a guy named David Killman. Bobby and Eddie
looked exactly like him. They weren't long lost twins, they

were triplets, and these three men were carbon copies of
each other. They all had the same curly hair and
big smiles. They were all adopted by Jewish families in
New York, and each had an adopted sister who was
two years older. But the similarities didn't stop there. They
had big, gregarious personalities. They all liked Chinese food, smoked
Marlboroughs and wrestled in school. They had never met before,

but they felt like the oldest of friends. In the
years after Bobby, Eddie and David found each other, they
became minor celebrities. They headlined every major talk show and
were fixtures on the club circuit. They opened a restaurant
called of Course, Triplets. They even landed a cameo in
a Madonna movie. But still, the trio had some burning questions.

For instance, why did they have to find each other
in the first place. It wasn't common for adoption agencies
to split up siblings, let alone keep their existence a
secret from each other. Why had the Louise Wise agency
lied to the three boys and their families at the
same time? And the Triplets were asking these questions, so
was a journalist, Lawrence Wright. He'd been working on a

story about twins separated at birth, and in his research
he found references to an obscure study. A psychologist, doctor
Peter Neubauer, was studying the effects of nature versus nurture. Basically,
Neubauer wanted to know what had a bigger effect on
someone's life, their genetics or the environment that they grew
up in. To find out doctor Neubauer purposely separated sets

of twins and had them adopted by different families and
the adoption agency that he used for his experiment the
Louise Wise Agency where Bobby, Eddie and David had been
adopted from. So when Lawrence Wright reached out to the
triplets with this revelation, at first they couldn't believe it,
and then they started comparing notes. All three remembered strangers

coming to their houses throughout their childhoods. These people would
film the boys and ask them questions. They'd tested their coordination,
their cognitive development, even their IQ and their parents had
been told that it was just part of a study
on how adopted children adjusted to their new homes. But
each boy never knew that he had two identical brothers
just a few miles away. Bobby, Eddie, and David were

devastated by this revelation. It felt like every aspect of
their lives had been tightly controlled for some experiment. Even
their families were carefully selected. David was purposely placed into
a working class family, Bobby's parents were middle class, and
Eddie grew up upper class. The pressure of fame coupled
with the discovery was a lot for the brothers to bear.

For Eddie, it appeared to be too much. He took
his own life in nineteen ninety five at the age
of thirty three. The two remaining brothers, Bobby and David,
are still looking for answers, namely why this unethical study
was carried out in the first place and what the
results were. Unfortunately, answers have not been forthcoming. Doctor Peter Nubauer,

who ran the study, died in two thousand and eight.
He donated all of his materials to Yale University on
under one condition that all of his notes would be
sealed until twenty sixty six. Perhaps one of the saddest
parts of the whole tale is that there are some
Neubauer study subjects who have never been found, People who
have lived their whole lives without knowing about their twins,

just like Bobby, Eddie and David. Who knows if there
are other yous wandering around out there. It's enough to
make you do a double or even a triple take.

There have been a lot of crazes over the years.
The nineteen sixties saw Beatlemania. The nineties had kids collecting
little cardboard discs called pugs, and the nineteen seventies had
the pet rock. But before mop tops and slammers and
caged minerals, there were balloons. Not the kind that can
lift a house in a Disney movie. I'm talking about
the big one, hot air balloons. It all started in

seventeen eighty three. That year, the Montgofier brothers launched their
two man hot air balloon over Paris. It flew five
and a half miles in just under half an hour,
with a rooster, a sheep and a duck in tow,
and when it landed the world was changed. Ballooning took
off in Europe like nothing else before. No pun intended
the idea of floating in a giant gas field sphere

was too powerful to ignore. Lots of people with grand
ideas about air travel flocked to cities like London and
Paris to show off their creations. This led to the
formation of flying circuses that would draw large crowds to
watch them from the ground. Strangely enough, this was not
where Monty Python got their name. That's a curiosity for

another day. But not everyone was enthralled. Some believe this
new age of aviation would be the downfall of society.
In a letter to a contemporary of his, art historian
Horace Walpole wrote, I hope these new mechanic meteors will
prove on any playthings for the learned and the idol.
He believed that they were nothing more than a fad,
and that the obsession with hovering above the clouds would

eventually pass, but the ballooning community showed no signs of
slowing down. In fact, things escalated quickly. Some balloonists, like
Vincenzo Lunardi, had to push the envelope by flying higher
and farther. He was known as the Daredevil aeronaut. On
September fifteenth of seventeen eighty four, he launched a balloon
from Finsbury, England, with over two hundred thousand spectators watching,

including the Prince of Wales. Along for the ride were
a cat, a dog, and a pigeon. Unfortunately, the cat
suffered under the intense cold at such a high altitude.
Lunardi touched down and released it before ascending once again.
He then landed one last time in a clearing about
twenty four miles away. He planned another launch in seventeen
eighty five over the city of Chester, but he was

incapacitated due to a severe injury. Instead, he allowed a
local enthusiast named Thomas Baldwin to rent his balloon and
carry out his own flight. Baldwin had been obsessed with ballooning.
He didn't see this flight as just a demonstration of
engineering prowess. He had a scientific mind and planned a
series of experiments to conduct while thousands of feet in

the air. For one, he brought a bunch of different
foods on board to see if they tasted different at
higher altitudes. He also packed drafting tools like pencils and paper,
along with a map. Oh, and one last thing another pigeon.
Pigeons must have been a popular ballooning experiment back then.
Once he reached the proper altitude, Baldwin did his taste

tests and also experimented with the air pressure. He spent
about two hours up there admiring the views below. There
were the roads that snaked through town and the lush
trees dotting the landscape. And when he finally planted his
two feet back on the ground, he had a new
goal in mind to show the rest of the world
what he had seen. He sketched the winding roads and
opened clearings as they had appeared from the air. He

even included the clouds below him, which obscured part of
his ground view. We might laugh about it today, but
this was the next best thing to a photograph, which
wasn't available at his time, and these were the first
aerial maps that were created as a result of hot
air ballooning. Some are colored in while others were left
black and white, but all of them were as detailed
as possible. Baldwin even included directions on how to look

at them. He instructed viewers to roll up the map
into a tube shape and peer through the center to
get the full effect. Thanks to his desire to convey
the Earth from the heavens, people were able to get
a bird's eye view of the planet in a way
that no one had ever seen before. Military strategists could
now plan their attacks by seeing the terrain that lay
miles ahead of them, Titans of industry could plot the

optimal areas in which to build their factories, and even
the average citizen was able to look at an aerial
map and see just how big the world really was,
and probably find the straightest route to the market, as straight,
of course, as the pigeon flies. I hope you've enjoyed
today's guided tour of the Cabinet of Curiosities. Subscribe for

free on Apple Podcasts, or learn more about the show
by visiting Curiosities podcast dot com. The show was created
by me Aaron Mankey in partnership with how Stuff Works.
I make another award winning show called Lore, which is
a podcast, book series, and television show, and you can
learn all about it over at the Worldoflore dot com.

And until next time, stay curious.

Aaron Mahnke's Cabinet of Curiosities News

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