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Significant Digits For Friday, Oct. 30, 2015

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

2 children

China announced the end of its one-child policy, which since 1980 had limited the number of children a couple could have as a population control measure. As a result, China has substantial gender imbalances, even though 65 percent of families were exempted from the policy before the announcement. [FiveThirtyEight]

5 out of 6

It’s not looking great for the New York Mets: Down two games in the World Series, they are at home against Kansas City tonight. Historically, five out of six teams down two games to none in a best-of-seven series go on to lose. [FiveThirtyEight]

85 percent

The percentage of alcohol-dependent adults who are also dependent on nicotine — or, as I like to call it, synergistic vice. Why smoking is appealing to drinkers is somewhat unknown, but an experiment on hard-partying rats found that it might have to do with the anti-sleep effects of nicotine. [Futurity]

86 percent

Since rugby rankings were introduced in 2003, New Zealand’s team has been the top-ranked squad 86 percent of the time. New Zealand will face Australia in an ANZAC grudge match in the worldwide Rugby World Cup final Saturday at the delightfully named Twickenham, in England. [Rugby World Cup]


A mass-produced foam surfboard is taking the surfing community by storm, rivaling boards that traditionally sell for about $300. The board, called Wavestorm and available through Costco, has sold about a half-million units since its introduction in 2007. Wavestorm’s growth is odd in an industry that has traditionally used boards designed or hawked by prominent surfers and in a market that has seen slow annual growth and bankruptcies, such as Quiksilver, in recent years. [Bloomberg]

112 pages

A 112-page internal document was leaked from Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. It includes an advertising plan and internal polling — and blasts Marco Rubio, who is also seeking the Republican nomination. [U.S. News & World Report]

236 votes

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was elected speaker of the House, winning 236 votes from his caucus. Good luck — you’ll need it. [The Guardian]

285 votes

The European Parliament voted 285 to 281 in support of a resolution stating that Edward Snowden should be able to seek asylum in the European Union, a move to protect the leaker from extradition to the United States. [Wired]

3.7 billion

The number of people younger than 50 who have the herpes simplex virus type 1, the kind that gives you cold sores around the mouth for the most part, unless you really screw up and get it on your genitals. [Reuters]

$4.4 billion

China’s steel business is seeing big drops in demand, with medium- to large-sized firms seeing losses of $4.4 billion in the first nine months of the year. [Bloomberg]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.