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Why a $10 billion piece of cargo is going through the Panama Canal in a few weeks

Plus: The oral history of Idiocracy.

Panama Canal with blue sky

Over the decades, the Panama Canal — finished in 1914 — has gotten increasingly busy. In 1916, only 807 transits occurred. In the last several years the number of transits has been in the 13,000 range.

A few weeks from now, a very expensive — $10 billion — piece of cargo will make the 51-mile journey through the canal, from its departure point in Long Beach, California, toward its destination of French Guiana on the northeastern coast of South America.

What is it? Keep reading for more on that story and others in this edition of Inverse Daily. Thanks for reading. I’m Inverse editor Nick Lucchesi.

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Gianfranco Vivi/Moment/Getty Images

What NASA is shipping down the Panama Canal Jon Kelvey writes that in a few weeks, NASA will be shipping the James Webb Space Telescope to its launch site in French Guiana.

Once it’s safely deployed at its operational orbit on the far side of the Sun from the Earth, the James Webb Telescope will allow astronomers to peer further into the distant past of the universe than anyone has before.

But before the Webb telescope can take its place in the firmament and the future, it must face hazards more familiar to the 19th century than the present, namely a lengthy sea voyage from Long Beach, California to its launch site at Kourou in French Guiana — with the risk of piracy thrown in for good measure.

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Left to right: Dax Shepard, Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph in Idiocracy.

20th Century Fox

The oral history of Idiocracy Beset by a low budget and little-to-no-advertising support, Idiocracy almost didn’t happen at all. The fact that it exists is a miracle. The fact that it managed to accurately predict the future is just a bonus. On its 15th anniversary, Ralph Jones has published this oral history of the cult classic:

In 2006, Idiocracy predicted the future.

The only problem? It did too good of a job.

Mike Judge’s science fiction satire imagined what the United States might look like in the year 2505. From his perspective, that meant:

  • A population made stupid by advertising
  • A brash president who used to be a wrestler
  • Crocs dominating the footwear landscape

Society seems doomed until a 21st-century everyman (Luke Wilson) gets frozen by the military and wakes up 500 years later, making him the smartest person in America and the only man who can save it.

Read the full story.

More oral histories:

While sub-Neptunes are fairly common throughout the universe, their larger counterparts, icy giants like Neptune, are very rare.

NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Landmark tool could help us find water on other planets Passant Rabie reports that scientists have figured out a way to measure the habitability of sub-Neptune planets, finding life on these strange worlds:

Our chances of finding life in the universe may have just increased dramatically.

A new study on super-Earths sheds light on these poorly understood worlds. Super-Earths could have liquid water oceans on their surface, one of the main ingredients for life. These strange worlds are more massive than the Earth but smaller than the solar system’s ice giant Neptune and abundant throughout the universe.

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Zhiwen Zhang / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

How can you fix erectile dysfunction Sarah Sloat writes that new research suggests adhering to a Meditteranean diet can help improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction:

The Mediterranean is a romantic place. Saltwater licks pale cream shorelines, and deep purple wine flows from happy hands. The food: plump tomatoes, tangy cheese, and slick olive oil.

According to new research, this part of the world isn’t just sexy: Its cuisine can improve your sex life.

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Keanu Reeves marks a birthday today.

Aaron Rapoport/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
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