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Former CIA Clandestine Operative
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Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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No, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wakanda is not a real country

An online tool listed the home of the Black Panther as a trading partner of the United States.

  • A USDA web tool designed to list countries who have free trade with the United States listed Wakanda among them this week.
  • Wakanda is a fictional country from the Marvel superhero movies.
  • The error was quickly found and explained away.

In a gift to the sketch writers, the United States Department of Agriculture included Wakanda, the fictional country the superhero Black Panther is from, on a list of countries in free trade agreements with the U.S.

Wakanda Forever!

The imaginary nation was added to the list as a test line in the tariff tracker tool. A spokesman for the USDA stated, "The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down," and declined to comment further.

The site included a list of products Wakanda had available for trade, including cows, ducks, water chestnuts, yellow potatoes, coffee, and beans. Vibranium, the fictitious metal featured in the Marvel with fantastic properties, was not included. The high-tech elements of Wakanda's economy, the comics and films explain the nation to have advanced technology made possible by vibranium, go unmentioned.

The employee who put Wakanda on the list in the first place is still unknown. It is probably safe to presume that they've heard about the mistake they made.

A fellow named Francis Tseng initially found the lingering inclusion as they looked up tariff rates in relationship to a fellowship they are applying for. The haphazard error has been fixed, and Wakanda is no longer listed on the USDA site.

That, or we're in a trade war with them too.

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
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How the Smiths took over Europe

In more than a dozen countries as far apart as Portugal and Russia, 'Smith' is the most popular occupational surname

Image: Marcin Ciura
Strange Maps
  • 'Smith' is not just the most common surname in many English-speaking countries
  • In local translations, it's also the most common occupational surname in a large part of Europe
  • Ironically, Smiths are so ubiquitous today because smiths were so special a few centuries ago
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Dinosaurs suffered from cancer, study confirms

A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.

A Centrosaurus reconstruction

Surprising Science
  • The fibula was originally discovered in 1989, though at the time scientists believed the damaged bone had been fractured.
  • After reanalyzing the bone, and comparing it with fibulas from a human and another dinosaur, a team of scientists confirmed that the dinosaur suffered from the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
  • The study shows how modern techniques can help scientists learn about the ancient origins of diseases.
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David Epstein: Thinking tools for 'wicked' problems

Join the lauded author of Range in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova!

Big Think LIVE

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Malcolm Gladwell was not able to make the live stream due to scheduling issues. Fortunately, David Epstein was able to jump in at a moment's notice. We hope you enjoy this great yet unexpected episode of Big Think Live. Our thanks to David and Maria for helping us deliver a show, it is much appreciated.

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