Inverse Daily

The Olympics kick off this week: Is Tokyo actually ready?

Plus: DNA study finds less than two percent of the human genome is “human”.

TOKYO, JAPAN - 2021/07/15: A woman wearing a face mask walks past Olympic Rings near the National St...
SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

This week people worldwide will be watching Tokyo, where the Summer Olympic Games kick off on Friday. It will be a dramatically different-looking event with limited spectators and no international spectators allowed.

The games, which continue through August 8, will be played in front of the quiet we saw when the European soccer leagues returned to play in April: eerie quiet and little more than players and coaches shouting. There will be no roaring crowds like you might see during a New York Mets game some 6,700 miles away being played simultaneously.

Here’s the Covid-19 situation in Japan: The seven-day average for new cases has been steadily increasing since precisely one month ago. (On Thursday of last week, the seven-day average of new cases was 2,400.) As columnist Dan Wetzel reported last week for Yahoo! Sports, the city doesn’t seem that prepared — or excited — based on the data:

GlobalData estimates the lack of fans at events will constitute an $800 million loss for the Tokyo organizing committee alone. Ancillary businesses will miss out on billions more.
So, that’s not great. And the Japanese are aware of it.
A full 50 percent of Tokyo residents said the Olympics should still be canceled, according to the Japan News. A recent poll by Ipsos found opposition nationwide hitting 78 percent. Some 73 percent in Tokyo said the current state of emergency won’t be effective with many citing the fact that local businesses have been crushed, all so a big international event can continue.

As for the games themselves, you can count on Inverse to offer timely, detailed explanations of the science behind the biggest moments, or maybe just why the pool water has turned green.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse, and this is Inverse Daily. The Inverse mission is to share big ideas about science and innovation in an entertaining style and look at entertainment and culture with deeply curious methods.


Mailbag — What’s in your apocalypse bag? You know, the backpack you carry when the world ends. Take the anonymous survey here. We’ve had more than 2,600 respondents so far! There are only a few more days to vote, so get in your end-times advice now!

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for July 19, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.


The ancient birthplace of marijuana Scientists discover the origins of Cannabis sativa in Northwest China dating back thousands of years ago and trace the genetic evolution of hemp and marijuana. Here’s a preview of the brand-new story from nature writer Tara Yarlagadda:

For thousands of years, humans have lit up worldwide, enjoying the high that comes from cannabis. But the controversial politics surrounding the drug has made it difficult for scientists to figure out its genetic origins. Where did cannabis come from and how did it evolve into the potent green that pleases us?

Scientists finally have an answer to that question — and the evolution of modern-day cannabis and how it diverged from its very close relative hemp is even wilder than you might think. New research published last week in the journal Science Advances used genetics to trace the ancient birthplace of Cannabis sativa, from which we harvest pot today.

Read the full story.

More mind-expanding original reporting on marijuana science:

Less than two percent of the human genome is “human” New research looks at an ancestral recombination graph of the genomes of modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans to map how much of our genome is shared. Here’s a preview of the story by science writer Elana Spivack:

For all the progress Homo sapiens have made as a species over the hundreds of thousands of years of our existence, our genome tells a different story.

In this biological version of the story, humans have not come as far as we think from our more archaic ancestors — at least on the molecular level. In a new landmark paper published in the journal Science Advances, researchers detail a telling discovery about our genes — finding that far less of our genome is actually wholly ours.

Read the full story.

More wild DNA discoveries:


SpaceX Starship: FAA warning could be a huge step backward for Elon Musk SpaceX is building a giant tower for its next Starship launch, which could happen before the end of July. Still, it may be running into trouble with one of Elon Musk’s greatest nemeses: the Federal Aviation Administration. Deputy editor Jake Kleinman has the story:

SpaceX is building a giant tower for its next Starship launch, which is expected to occur before the end of July. But the company may be running into trouble with one of Elon Musk’s greatest nemeses: the Federal Aviation Administration.

CNBC reports the FAA sent a letter to SpaceX two months ago stating that the launch tower does not have government approval. It’s possible an environmental review from the FAA could even result in the organization recommending that Musk disassemble the tower, which is currently being built in Boca Chica, Texas.

“The company is building the tower at its own risk,” an FAA spokesperson told CNBC. (SpaceX did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.)

Read the full story.

Go deeper down the SpaceX wormhole:

Kentucky Route Zero is a game punctuated with performance.

Annapurna Interactive

Video games need to borrow more from this one ancient art formVideo games are an art form all their own, but their ties to one medium redefine what we mean by “player”. Staff writer Dais Johnston reports on this idea for our special Video Games Issue that debuted last week:

The curtain rises on a performance of The Entertainment.

This interlude between acts of Annapurna Interactive’s lauded indie game Kentucky Route Zero is a combination of two plays produced in a small, cramped theater. You are a member of the audience but also an actor playing a mute bar fly. You can hear the dialogue around you, read the director’s notes, and even the reviews, but you are locked in place.

It’s a strange way to view theater. It’s an even stranger way to play a video game.

Read the full story.

Geek out on more video games here:

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch reacts on stage as the crowd sings Happy Birthday to him while he presents the movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness during the Marvel panel in Hall H of the Convention Center during Comic-Con in San Diego, California, on July 20, 2019.

  • About the newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to
  • Follow me on Twitter at @nicklucchesi, if for no other reason than to get Inverse headlines in your timeline and a few other Inverse-y things.
  • Before we go: Benedict Cumberbatch (seen above on his birthday two years ago, greeting fans at Comic-Con), Brian May (Queen guitarist and Asteroid Day booster), and Teresa Edwards (Basketball Hall-of-Famer and four-time Olympic gold medalist), were all born on this day. HBD!
Related Tags