Category Archives: Significant Digits

Significant Digits For Friday, March 29, 2019

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

More than 300 pages
The full report of special counsel Robert Mueller is more than 300 pages long, according to the Justice Department. However, all that has been made public is Attorney General William Barr’s summary, which is four pages long. In the context of government reports, Mueller’s isn’t an outlier — the Starr report ran 445 pages, the 9/11 commission report 567 pages, and a report on how the FBI handled an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was 568 pages. [The New York Times]

More than 1,000 passengers
Wow Air, a budget carrier out of Iceland, ceased operations on Thursday, stranding travelers on multiple continents and affecting more than 1,000 passengers. I’ve heard of canceled flights, but never a canceled airline. “I’m disappointed not to honor our commitments,” the Wow CEO said — those commitments being, like, getting people back across the Atlantic Ocean. [CNN]

6,227 pedestrians
More than 6,000 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2018, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the highest number in three decades. Experts, according to NPR, attribute the rise to “drivers and pedestrians distracted by their phones” along with an increase in large vehicles. [NPR]

More than $1 trillion
Amy Klobuchar — Democratic candidate for president, senator from Minnesota, and reported eater of salad with comb — wants to “break the partisan logjam” and professes to be able to do so with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to improve America’s roads and bridges, public schools, and broadband internet. She reportedly plans to make infrastructure, the betterment of which has bipartisan support, a centerpiece of her campaign. [The Wall Street Journal]

5-point window
Despite the seemingly constant clangor from the White House and Washington, D.C., President Trump’s approval ratings remain incredibly steady. Half of his approval polls have fallen with a band of 5 points, between 39 percent and 44 percent. Only President Barack Obama rivaled that narrow range, while every other president back to Harry Truman saw wider ranges, and in many cases much wider. “As Democrats and Republicans move farther apart politically,” my colleague Geoffrey Skelley writes, “the specifics of a president’s job performance may become secondary considerations for voters in forming an opinion of how he’s doing.” [FiveThirtyEight]

184 of the 270 votes
The governor of Delaware signed a law pledging that that state’s Electoral College votes will go to the winner of the national popular vote in the presidential election, regardless of who actually wins the state itself. Delaware is the 13th state to commit to such a pledge, and those states now represent 184 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to elect a president. [Associated Press]

From ABC News:

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Significant Digits For Thursday, March 28, 2019

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

6-foot-10
Brooklyn, stand up! Very tall, as it happens. Robert Cornegy Jr., a city councilman who represents the borough, is a former pro basketball player and member of a Final Four college team. He now also holds the Guinness World Record for tallest politician. He’s 6-foot-10, and wrested the title from Sir Louis Gluckstein, a London politician, by more than two inches. New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, is reportedly just under 6-foot-6. [The New York Times]

5 men
According to the bookmaker William Hill, five men are the betting favorites to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said she’d be willing to step down before the next phase of Brexit negotiations. They are environment secretary Michael Gove (5-2 odds), former foreign secretary Boris Johnson (5-1), foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt (7-1), “May’s de facto deputy” David Lidington (7-1), and home secretary Sajid Javid (9-1). [The Washington Post]

Less than 1 billion years ago
Despite the fact that the “great thinning,” during which Mars lost most of its atmosphere, happened more than 3 billion years ago, Martian rivers still flowed with water as recently as less than 1 billion years ago, according to a new study by geophysical scientists. The rivers were filled by precipitation, flowed “intermittently but intensely,” and were often twice as large as comparable rivers on Earth. [Space.com]

$75,328 in taxes
Stephen Moore, President Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, is “being pursued” by the government for $75,328 in back taxes from 2014. “For several years I have been working through a dispute with the IRS, attempting to be returned what my attorneys and accountant believe were tax overpayments of tens of thousands of dollars,” Moore said in a statement. [The Guardian]

10 alleged raiders
Recently, in international incidents: Ten alleged assailants from a “mysterious dissident organization” raided a North Korean embassy in Madrid. They held employees hostage and stole computers and documents as part of an attempt to overthrow the Kim regime. They then fled for the U.S. by way of Lisbon and offered the pilfered material to the FBI. Oh, and did I mention they were led by a Mexican national who graduated from Yale and once did a jail stint in China? Just your typical story, in other words. [Associated Press, The New York Times]

93 miles
And finally, in a much calmer story: A 57-year-old British fugitive wanted for drug charges tried to flee Australia on a jet ski “possibly armed with a crossbow” and believed to be bound for Papua New Guinea. He made it some 93 miles before being arrested, only about 2.5 miles from the coast. [Gizmodo]

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Significant Digits For Friday, Jan. 25, 2019

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

1,000 jobs
It’s been a terrible week for the media business. All told, some 1,000 people in the industry across the country lost their jobs. That includes BuzzFeed announcing that it’d lay off 15 percent of its staff, HuffPost’s parent company Verizon announcing that it’d lay off 7 percent of its media division, and newspaper giant Gannett laying off dozens. [CNN Business]

153 years
For the first Valentine’s Day in 153 years, there will be no Sweethearts candies, those little chalky heart-shaped delights with short but sweet (lol) messages on them. Necco, the candy’s maker, went bankrupt and its factories are closing. I MISS U. [ABC News]

100 times faster
A new 3D printing technique, developed by University of Michigan engineers, uses a vat of resin, UV lights and blue LED lights to print up to 100 times faster than current machines. Maybe they can replace that resin with some sugar and print up some Sweethearts. [IEEE Spectrum]

50 to 47; 52 to 44
Two competing bills that would’ve ended the government shutdown were both rejected in the Senate yesterday. One, President Trump’s plan including a $5.7 billion wall, failed 50-47. The other, the Democrats’ plan for two weeks of government funding with no funding for the wall, failed 52-44. Both would have needed 60 votes. [The New York Times]

10 games in a row
An artificial intelligence system developed by Google’s DeepMind — the same outfit that produced superhuman Go player AlphaGo and super-superhuman chess player AlphaZero — beat human pros at the video game “Starcraft II.” The system, called (you guessed it) AlphaStar, won 10 games in a row before a human was finally able to win a single game for our species. Hey DeepMind, hire some of those laid-off writers to name your things for you. [The Verge]

$7 billion
The White House is reportedly drafting a declaration of national emergency for President Trump to potentially deliver and has identified $7 billion in funds for Trump’s “signature” border wall, in an apparent effort to possibly bypass Congress. According to CNN, those funds include: “$681 million from Treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds.”

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.
If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.


Significant Digits For Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

$238 million apartment
That’s the new record price for a home in the U.S., paid by hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin for a 24,000 square-foot penthouse on Central Park South in New York City. Meanwhile, the government doesn’t know how it’s going to pay for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistant Program, which feeds some 40 million Americans, come March. [The Wall Street Journal]

$6 billion in back pay
By the end of the week, federal workers going without pay thanks to the partial federal government shutdown will be owed $6 billion in back pay, a study by Sentier Research found. For scale, that’s more than the $5.7 billion that President Trump has requested for border security. [The Washington Post]

72 hours
Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader backed by the Trump administration, declared himself interim president of that country yesterday. Nicolas Maduro, who took the presidential oath of office two weeks ago, gave American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country, saying he’d “decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist U.S. government.” [Associated Press]

713 confirmed and probable cases
The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history, with 713 “confirmed and probable cases” and 439 deaths. The country confirmed 14 new cases of the hemorrhagic fever yesterday — the largest increase since the outbreak began in August. [Reuters]

66 days
A bit of good news: A literal ray of sunshine. Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, is the northernmost city in the United States, well above the arctic circle. And yesterday, it saw its first sunshine in 66 days. Not all that shines is warm, however — temperatures in Utqiaġvik felt like -30 Fahrenheit. [Accuweather]

$284,803 in prize money
Virtual agrarians, rejoice. The studio behind the hyper-realistic “Farming Simulator” video games is committing $284,803 in prize money to fund a “Farming Simulator” e-sports league. It will feature teams of three and “will challenge them with competing across a number of different farming-based tasks.” [Kotaku]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.
If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.


Significant Digits For Friday, Nov. 2, 2018

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

60,000 new crossword or cooking subscribers
The “failing” New York Times topped 4 million total paid subscribers last quarter. That was achieved thanks in part to 203,000 new digital-only subscribers, 60,000 of whom joined just for the paper’s crossword or cooking products. As a puzzle editor myself, my spirits are buoyed by the news. [The New York Times]

1 in 7 chance
Those are the Democrats’ current chances of winning a majority in the Senate, according to our forecast. Slim, but not microscopic. You wouldn’t wake up on a Thursday in disbelief that it happened to be Thursday, after all, FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver writes. What Democrats would need at this point to win the body is a systematic polling error — “one that occurs in a correlated way across every race, or in certain groups of races.” A 2.5 percentage point swing, for example, is about one standard deviation’s worth of swing on election night. [FiveThirtyEight]

4.3 billion miles
After this week’s news that NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope had run out of fuel, the Jet Propulsion Lab now reports that the Dawn spacecraft has gone silent, running out of its own hydrazine fuel supply. Dawn traveled 4.3 billion miles during its 11-year, ion-engine-powered journey to visit and study the largest objects in the asteroid belt. [Jet Propulsion Laboratory]

1.5 million genomes
The Earth BioGenome Project is on a quest to sequence the genomes of “every known animal, plant, fungus and protozoan.” Only a few thousand of the 1.5 million known species on the planet have been sequenced, according to the project’s chairman. The project is expected to cost nearly $5 billion, and 17 institutions are currently signed on. One goal is to combat the effects of climate change by using species’ genomes to better understand how they adapt to their environments. [BBC]

More than 23 million votes
In some sense, Election Day is a few days away, but in another sense it’s been here already. As of Thursday morning, 23,391,086 midterm election votes had already been cast across the country, per CNN and the data company Catalist. In many key states, the early vote totals were significantly more — in some cases many times more — than at the same point in the 2014 midterms. But it’s important to remember that polls are still more reliable for forecasting purposes and that we don’t know all of the factors involved in early voting. [CNN]

4 all-around world titles
Simone Biles, the American gymnast, on Thursday became the first woman to win four all-around world titles. Despite falling on the balance beam and the vault — her first falls in more than 60 world championship and Olympic routines — Biles’s margin of victory during the event in in Doha, Qatar, was the largest of any of her world championships. [The Guardian]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.
If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.


Significant Digits For Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

30 percent faster
According to research by the record labels Deutsche Grammaphon and Decca, classical music is being played faster and faster. Performances of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto, for example, are a third shorter than they were 50 years ago, with about a minute being shaved off every decade. That is really a shame, and not because I care about the fidelity of Bach’s intentions or whatever. It’s because I care deeply about the greatest piece of classical music ever composed and performed — the “Jurassic Park” theme, 1,000 percent slower. [Rolling Stone]

10 billion years ago
The Milky Way galaxy as we know it was forged by a collision 10 billion years ago with a smaller galaxy called Gaia-Enceladus, according to a new astronomy paper in Nature. The collision provided the Milky Way’s “signature halo” — the equivalent of some 600 million Suns of galactic material — and filled its “distinctive disk.” Thanks for that, Gaia-Enceladus. And sorry, I guess. We didn’t see you there. [AFP]

5,000 tribal citizens
An estimated 5,000 tribal citizens in North Dakota won’t be able to vote because of a new provision that requires voters to furnish IDs that have a street address listed. Some tribal communities have had no street signage and no mail delivery directly to homes for years, and some residents have only recently learned the name of the street on which they live. Critics call the requirement an act of voter suppression. The ID law is ostensibly meant to combat voter fraud, though the Republican who oversees elections in the state has in the past said voter fraud is not a significant issue in North Dakota. [NBC News]

60 percent more heat
Our oceans have been retaining heat — 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously thought, according to new research published in Nature. That heat represents a lot of energy. And that energy could warm the planet even faster in the coming years than scientists predicted. [The Washington Post]

5 toss-up governorships
There are five toss-up governors races according to FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts. And new polling in two of them suggest really tight races, my colleague Geoffrey Skelley writes. Those two are in Georgia — where Democrat Stacey Abrams could become the first African-American woman governor in history — and in Ohio — where Democrat Richard Cordray is deadlocked with Republican Mike DeWine. And just so you know a little bit more about me, whenever I hear “Richard Cordray,” I think “Danny Cordray,” who was a bit character who appeared in like two episodes of “The Office” eight years ago. Fun fact: There was also a producer on the show named Randy Cordray. Election’s almost over, I keep telling myself. [FiveThirtyEight]

58 percent white men
At 58 percent, the share of white men among the midterm candidates for the House, Senate and governorships is the lowest it’s been in at least the past four elections. Of the 964 candidates on the ballot on Tuesday, 272 are women; 215 are black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or multiracial; and 26 identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. [The New York Times]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.
If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.


Significant Digits For Friday, Oct. 12, 2018

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

More than 60 percent of searches
According to new research in the journal Science, more than 60 percent of DNA searches on a relatively small data set of about 1.3 million people would result in finding a person’s third cousin or someone closer. That may not seem too impressive, but it’s the same closeness of match that was used, for example, to identify the Golden State Killer earlier this year. [The Verge]

245 F-35 fighter jets
The Department of Defense temporarily grounded all 245 of its F-35 fighter jets. Late last month, one such jet crashed in South Carolina, and a fuel tube may have been at fault. [CNN]

559 pages and 251 accounts
It’s not only Russians who can troll. Never ones to be outdone, Americans, too, are getting in on the act. For example, an American blogger spread fake stories on Facebook after Christine Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony, including that her lawyers were bribed by Democrats. Yesterday, Facebook said it had identified 559 American-run pages and 251 American-run accounts spreading false and misleading information, and that the company would remove them. [The New York Times]

2.536 million viewers
There are signs that Fox News viewers are tiring of watching President Trump’s rallies, and he’s no longer a “sure bet” to top Fox’s regular programming. For example, a rally in late August received just over 2.5 million viewers, compared to a regular 4 million viewers for rallies in 2017, and a 2.8 million average for Tucker Carlson’s show in that primetime time slot. The network has recently stopped airing Trump’s events in their entirety, not wanting to cede its primetime programming. [Politico]

R+37
West Virginia’s 3rd District is dark red — crimson, garnet, burgundy even. To wit, it’s R+37, meaning it’s 37 points more Republican than the country overall. However, the current House race there is only rated as “Lean Republican” or even “Toss-up,” my colleague Geoffrey Skelley writes. It’s an open seat held by the presidential party, which can make districts vulnerable to flipping. If the district flipped, it’d be the biggest such flip since 1998. [FiveThirtyEight]

20th state
Washington state’s Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, making it the 20th state to do so via legislation or the courts. The court’s chief justice wrote that the state’s capital punishment law lacked “fundamental fairness” and that it was unequally applied when it came to race. [Associated Press]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.
If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.


Significant Digits For Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

8 overtime games
There have been eight overtime games already this NFL season, the most to this point in more than 15 years. There have also already been two ties, making this only the fourth multi-tie season since 1974. The main reason, according to my colleague Neil Paine: parity across the league. [FiveThirtyEight]

1.6 percent drop
Millennials, the media would like you to know, are serial killers. Victims include casual dining chains, starter homes, napkins, cereal, bar soap and golf. The latest reported casualty: American cheese. Sales of processed cheese like Kraft Singles and Velveeta, for example, are projected to drop 1.6 percent this year. I am technically a millennial — I won’t bore you with my demographic argument against that fact right now — and I’m proud to say that I am doing more than my part to keep processed cheese a booming industry. [Bloomberg]

5,000 terrorism cases
Christopher Wray, the FBI director, told a Senate committee that the bureau is currently investigating a whopping 5,000 terrorism cases, about 1,000 of which involve homegrown violent extremists. [ABC News]

$69 billion merger
The Justice Department approved, subject to some conditions, the $69 billion-with-a-b merger of the retail pharmacy CVS and the health insurance company Aetna. It’s a deal that “could potentially transform the health-care industry,” writes the Post. [The Washington Post]

$56 billion in weapons
American companies sold $55.6 billion worth of weapons to foreign countries in the past fiscal year, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. This is up 33 percent from the year before. The head of that group attributes the increase to the Trump administration’s “push for foreign sale policy reforms.” [The Hill]

6 months in prison
Richard Pinedo, an American who pleaded guilty to identity fraud related to Russian trolling, was sentenced to six months in prison and six months in home confinement. It’s the longest sentence yet in Robert Mueller’s investigation into meddling in the 2016 election. [Politico]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.
If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.


Significant Digits For Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018

Category : Significant Digits

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

65,000 people
Taylor Swift’s recent Instagram post to her 112 million followers (!) endorsed two Tennessee Democrats and urged people to register to vote. It appears to have resonated. The website vote.org reported that indeed some 65,000 people between the ages of 18 and 29 had registered following the post. All the new registrations likely weren’t because of Swift, though: many states’ registration deadlines were this week. [NBC News]

80 percent chance
Republicans’ chances of holding on to the Senate have crept up to about 80 percent according to our Classic forecast. My colleague Nate Silver described the polling pattern as follows: In general, Democrats have been ailing in red states and stable or improving in blue states, and Democrats have had “particular problems” in North Dakota, where Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s numbers have been slipping. [FiveThirtyEight]

63 percent approval
Yesterday, Nikki Haley announced she’s resigning as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the end of the year. According to a Quinnipiac poll of five of President Trump’s Cabinet members, Haley was the only one with majority approval among Republicans and Democrats. Overall, 63 percent of people approved and 17 percent disapproved of her performance as ambassador. [The Washington Post]

114 justices
Brett Kavanaugh heard his first Supreme Court arguments as a justice yesterday. He’s the 114th justice in American history. Of those, 111 have been white, 110 have been men and the past 12 justices, including the entirety of the current court, have attended Ivy League law schools. [The New York Times]

15 nominees
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, that bastion of cultural relevance, announced its 2019 nominees for induction yesterday. They are The Cure, Def Leppard, Devo, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Roxy Music, Rufus & Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, Todd Rundgren and The Zombies. Actually seems like the makings of a pretty decent playlist, to be honest. [NPR]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.
If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.