Here are some one liners...
Darwin: "On the Origin of Species" -- I mention that Darwin's theory, while a good first pass, has flaws. Watch the heads explode.
John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry -- Like Uncle Tom, he seems to be trying to save the souls of the slave-owners.
Port Sa'id and the Suez Canal -- I talk about Stalin, Mao and Elvis... the deadly trio.
In Other News -- Vaseline, the Planet Vulcan, and a massive solar storm.
Darwin: "On the Origin of Species"Since the 1830s, scientists have been toying with the idea of the origin of species. In nature, you can see minor differences in animals and plants. Gregor Mendel is currently crossbreeding pea plants and creating the science of genetics. Crossbreeding of dogs has been ongoing for centuries, so there must be a natural mechanism at work too. An extremely popular book came out in 1844 entitled, "Vestiges of Creation." Its scientific basis was weak, but it created a public interest in the origin of animals, plants and perhaps... humankind. Charles Darwin has been searching for a theory that will explain the natural process of creating a species when he reads a paper on the Malthusian theory that human population growth reaches its limit when war, poverty, disease take its human toll. Something clicks and Darwin see a war in the animal and plant kingdoms where survival of the fittest and sometimes blind chance is the rule. He publishes "On the Origin of Species" at just the right time. His theory has flaws, but it pulls existing ideas together into a comprehensive whole and the public picks it up and runs with it... much to the dismay of many of the clergy and the joy of eugenicists.    
John Brown's Raid on Harpers FerryThe US Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia is under attack by men led by the militant abolitionist, John Brown. Brown is attempting to instigate a slave revolt, but as with any revolt, guns come in handy. His plan calls for renting a house and living in the area to become familiar with the armory and with the people of the area. The people of the area are mostly armorers. Oddly enough, the armorers are not armed because raids seem unlikely. (Oops!) A single guard is on hand to call for help in case of a fire. At 10 PM, Brown and his men subdue the guard and take over the armory. They have a list of critical hostages to take so they go into town and arrest them. As dawn breaks, the plan breaks down. The townspeople realize something is wrong, but they can only look on helplessly. Finally, one of the armorers remembers that they had moved some guns above the flood line when recent rains threatened. They use the guns against Brown and his men and chase them into the engine room. They call upon Colonel Robert E. Lee and the US Marines to take the engine room. John Brown is taken prisoner. One Marine is killed and another injured. Brown is unrepentant. He is given a trial and hanged.   
Port Sa'id and the Suez CanalWork on the Suez canal begins this year. The actual work is to establish Port Sa'id as a starting point. There are no local resources, per se. It isn't even a good location for a port, but a rock outcropping is found off shore and a wooden pier is constructed. We are talking about a canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez which is about 120 miles. Everything will have to be shipped in. Napoleon had originally commissioned a feasibility study to see if it could be done economically, but some mistakes were made in the study, so it came back negative. Napoleon dropped the project. Now the French have returned and reevaluated. There is only a 4 foot difference in sea levels. (The Gulf of Suez is higher.) If they go through the Bitter Lakes, that should balance out. The French make a deal with the current ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Sa'id Pasha, for 22% ownership. The rest of the shares are sold mainly to French citizens. One of the first things they build is the Sweet Water Canal to provide fresh water to Port Sa'id. The Suez Canal will be open for business in 10 years. 
In Other News
- The Planet Vulcan is discovered. An amateur astronomer finds a planet closer to the Sun than Mercury. It is called "Vulcan", but it is all a big mistake. Vulcan lives on today as the home planet of Mr. Spock in the Star Trek series. 
- Vaseline is discovered. Oil workers have been using "rod wax" to heal wounds and burns. After collecting samples and extracting the petroleum jelly, a Brooklyn manufacturer starts selling it as a medicinal cure under the name "Vaseline".