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Significant Digits For Friday, May 6, 2016

Welcome to Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news.

5 cents

The New York City Council voted Thursday to implement a 5 cent fee on carryout bags with a few exceptions. I can only imagine this is exceptional news for local NPR affiliate WNYC, which can finally get more of those fly tote bags into the wild now. [The New York Times]

12 hours

That’s the big sell of OxyContin, or at least it was: pain relief for 12 hours. But despite the claim, the lack of consistent results for many patients led to over-prescribing or increased doses, which in turn has in part led to an opiate epidemic that has claimed 190,000 lives since 1999. [Los Angeles Times]

18 years old

The Food and Drug Administration has banned the sale of electronic cigarettes to people under the age of 18, marking the first major federal regulatory actions on the product. The person who seems to walk ahead of me on my commute every morning was unavailable for comment. [The Washington Post]

20 films

Number of films Hollywood will release in 2016 that contain a colon in their title. “Captain America: Civil War” is 5 percent of that, for those counting at home. [The Wrap]


President Obama announced that he will commute the sentences of 58 federal inmates incarcerated for drug crimes. [The Hill]

81 percent

Based on a series of thousands of crowdsourced matchups, some quick modeling and a whole bunch of simulations, I estimate that Team Iron Man would defeat Team Cap about 81 percent of the time based on the assorted strength ratings of each squad. This is largely due to Captain America’s mediocre recruitment, as he would only lose to Iron Man about 60 percent of the time in one-on-one matchups. Applying sports analytics to comic book characters is not where I expected my career to go, but I’m cool with this. [FiveThirtyEight]

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And if you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.