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Significant Digits For Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. It’s Guest Week here at this column, which means a cavalcade of FiveThirtyEight writers has agreed to keep you numerate. Today’s guest writer: @ollie.


6 people

Six people have just emerged from a 20-foot tall, 36-foot in diameter dome in Hawaii after a year in isolation. They were there helping NASA plan for a mission to Mars. I, meanwhile, have spent two years in a 200-square-foot New York apartment, emerging only occasionally for sandwiches from the corner bodega. NASA: Call me. [Guardian]


12 seconds

A typical NASCAR pitstop takes about 12 seconds. That’s several seconds faster than the typical pitstop in the early 2000s. Former college baseball, basketball and football athletes are increasingly being recruited into auto racing, and perfecting the complex, physically demanding ballet that is competitive auto maintenance. [The New Yorker]


30-hour workweek

Amazon, which has sometimes been criticized for its break-neck work culture, is experimenting with a few technical teams of part-time, 30-hour-a-week workers. The teams will work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., plus “flex hours,” and garner the same benefits as full-time employees. There’s a hope that the arrangement could attract more female employees, who tend to shoulder more household and child-care responsibilities. [The Washington Post]


55 percent chance

Over the next two weeks, thousands will descend upon the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York, to sit in bleachers, wear shorts, sweat all over each other and drink vodka cocktails. There will also be a major tennis tournament taking place. It’s a tournament — the U.S. Open — that Serena Williams has a 55 percent chance to win, according to our predictions. It would be Williams’s 23rd major, an Open-era record. The favorite on the men’s side is Novak Djokovic, with a 57 percent shot at the championship. [FiveThirtyEight]


6.2 million dead butterflies

Storms in Mexico earlier this year brought unusual rain, cold and wind, destroying 133 acres of forest and killing 6.2 million monarch butterflies that were wintering there. That’s over 7 percent of the 84 million butterflies that winter in the area. Last December, they covered some 10 acres. That’s up from their record-low 1.7 acres in 2013, but down from the 44 acres they covered 20 years ago. [The Weather Channel]


130 million ash trees

The emerald ash borer is killing trees and causing major problems. The borers, small green beetles, have infected 130 million ash trees in about 6 million acres of New York forest. Beyond the ecological devastation, the insects could have a significant effect in the world of sport. While maple, for example, has been increasing in popularity in baseball, about a quarter of major league bats are made out of white ash. [The New York Times]


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Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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