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Significant Digits For Friday, Sept. 28, 2018

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

Down 10 percent

The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing Elon Musk in federal court. The lawsuit has to do with Musk’s now-infamous tweet in which he was “considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” It’s those last two words that have caused a problem with the SEC. “In truth and in fact, Musk had not even discussed, much less confirmed, key deal terms, including price, with any potential funding source,” says the SEC suit. Tesla stock dropped 10 percent following the news. [The New York Times]


CC Sabathia, the Yankees pitcher, was ejected from a game yesterday for beaning a batter in the sixth inning. Sabathia had entered the game with 148 innings pitched on the season — seven more and he’d have triggered a $500,000 bonus in his contract. Don’t cry for CC, though — he makes $10 million a year. [Sports Illustrated]

80,000 flu deaths

The flu killed 80,000 people and hospitalized 900,000 more this past season, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This is extraordinarily high. Normal ranges for yearly flu deaths, according to the CDC, are between 12,000 and 56,000 people, and between 250,000 and 700,000 hospitalized. [NBC News]

20,000 bees

A swarm of some 20,000 bees, apparently taking a rest from a flight of their own, took up a perch in the engine of a Mango Airlines plane in South Africa, causing flight delays. This is all of course very ironic and a lost, possibly quite cute, opportunity — if communication was improved, perhaps the plane could have just given the bees a ride. [BBC]

30 to 50 years

Thanks to poisonous polychlorinated biphenyls — or PCBs — leaking into oceans, at least half of the world’s killer whale population will go extinct, according to a new study. The chemicals are illegal, but still around, and the orcas suffer from being at the top of the food chain, where the chemicals become concentrated. All that work freeing Willy, and for what? [The Guardian]

100 percent; 100 percent

Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. Both said they were certain. Sen. Richard Durbin asked Ford how certain she was that Kavanaugh had attacked her. “One-hundred percent,” she said. Sen. John Kennedy asked Kavanaugh if he had any doubt that the accusations were untrue. “Zero,” he said. “Hundred percent certain, senator.” [The Washington Post]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s out on Oct. 9 and available for pre-order now — I hope you dig it.

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.