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Significant Digits for Friday, Jan. 15, 2016

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


Tropical Storm Alex graduated into Hurricane Alex on Thursday, making it just the third active hurricane in the Atlantic in the month of January since 1851, and the first since 1955. [Weather Underground]

3 years

The Episcopal Church of the United States has been slapped with a 3-year ban from participating in internal decisions by the international Anglican communion for its allowance of same-sex marriage. [CNN]

55 gallons of lubricant

The militia members who have taken over a wildlife reserve in Oregon have received a considerable number of care packages, and some significant portion of those have been, let’s say, tongue-in-cheek. For instance, the group received enough dildos that it produced a video message imploring the public to stop mailing very large sex toys to the reserve. Max Temkin, creator of the game “Cards Against Humanity,” responded by splurging on the Internet-infamous 55 gallon barrel of “Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant” for $1,175.82. [Boing Boing]

300+ staffers

The Huffington Post agreed to recognize a union of more than 300 employee writers under the WGA. [@greenhousenyt]

1,400 studies

Number of studies about drugs that have already gone to market that the FDA has not yet read, a backlog up from 500 in 2008. [STAT News]

$215 million

Amount the government spent on 11 mining projects in Afghanistan before, after five years, the task force “left with nearly all of its extractive projects incomplete.” [ProPublica]

$4 billion

The Obama administration announced the intention to spend $4 billion on a 10-year project to help self-driving cars get on the road. [Re/code]

$5.1 billion

Goldman Sachs will pay $5.1 billion to settle an investigation into its handling of mortgage-backed securities leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. About $1.8 billion of that is consumer relief, which means us I think! [Bloomberg]

$1 billion

Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, said it expects to make more than $1 billion off of advertising for the 2016 Rio Olympics. [Variety]

570 billion suns

A supernova that burned with the intensity of 570 billion suns that was observed last year remains an absurd outlier, challenging the current theories of how supernovas work. Speaking of uncontrollable and unprecedented implosions that observers are unable to stop but from which they cannot possibly look away, the 49ers have hired Chip Kelly. [Nature]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.