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Significant Digits For Friday, Nov. 2, 2018

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.

Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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