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Significant Digits for Friday, Jan. 8, 2016

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

-0.5 years

The change in life expectancy for Mexican men between 2005 and 2010, according to a new study. The number had consistently risen for decades, but, due in part to a rising murder rate, it was on the decline at the end of the last decade. [STAT News]

1 time in a decade

In response to a reported test of a nuclear weapon, South Korea will blast K-Pop music across the border shared with North Korea. It’s a propaganda tool that seeks to undermine the grip the Kim dynasty holds on the country, and has only been used once in the past decade. [Bloomberg]

3 balls

Every time one of these new blockbuster movies come out, it’s just merchandising, merchandising, merchandising everywhere! Commercials for totally unrelated products, head-scratchingly branded food — if you can slap a logo on it, it’s a free for all. But now merchandising has gone too far: officials in Vietnam say three metal balls weighing between 9 ounces and 99 pounds fell from the sky in the north part of the country. They blame the Russians, but it’s clearly a promo for “Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money.” [BBC]

-15 to -20 degrees

Factoring in wind chill, the temperature at the NFL playoff game in Minnesota on Sunday may hit an all-time low for an NFL game, with forecasted temps between -15 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest NFL game ever took place in Green Bay in 1967. It was -13 degrees. [USA Today]

$20 per barrel

The price of oil continues to drop, and Canadian physical crude is now selling at $20 per barrel. That means it’s essentially being sold at a loss, given production costs. [Reuters]

650 submunitons

Reports indicate that Saudi Arabia bombed residential neighborhoods in Yemen’s capital with American-made cluster bombs, explosives that scatter 650 smaller munitions when they land. [Human Rights Watch]


Capacity of the Flynn Center in Burlington, Vermont, where Donald Trump spoke Thursday night. Worried that Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters would pack the theater, the campaign reportedly questioned the loyalty of people with tickets to determine who got to see the candidate. [The New York Times]

12,697 steps

Sen. Ted Cruz is storming through Iowa on a campaign blitz, but thanks to modern tech we have an idea of how much work that is: after one day of campaigning, Cruz’s Fitbit reported he had taken 12,697 steps by 9:35 p.m. This isn’t exactly Woodward and Bernstein stuff, I know, but it satisfied a lingering question I’ve always had about how much physical effort a campaign takes. That being said, I’ve had a Fitbit, and now I’m wondering if Cruz’s gestures during speeches means he’s inflating the stats a bit. I’m not saying I’m a Ted Cruz Fitbit truther, but politicians do tend to talk with their hands when they get into it. [The New York Times]


Fine to a bar owner after a patron was mistakenly given a pint laced with caustic cleaning fluid that forced the victim to eventually have his esophagus removed. I personally feel like my esophagus is worth substantially more than £20,000. Like, if you offered me £20,000 or the ability to retain my esophagus as-is, I would definitely go for the latter. [The Guardian]

180,000 public domain items

The New York Public Library is releasing upwards of 180,000 photos, maps and other entries from its special collections digitally, and that requires a lot of planning from NYPL Labs, a group founded in 2011 that develops experimental ways of sharing the NYPL’s vast repository of information. [The New York Times]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.