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Significant Digits For Monday, May 20, 2019

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


950 bankruptcies

It wasn’t that long ago that a New York City taxi medallion, required to operate one of the city’s yellow cabs, was worth more than a million dollars, thanks to “a small group of bankers and brokers” eager to turn the industry “into their own moneymaking machine.” In 2014, the market crashed. More than 950 immigrant drivers have since filed for bankruptcy, according to a New York Times analysis of court records. [The New York Times]


$40 million gift

The tech billionaire Robert F. Smith announced in his commencement speech that he will eliminate all of the student debt of Morehouse College’s class of 2019. It’s a gift estimated at $40 million. That is both very nice of Smith and deeply distressing overall. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]


1 million Australian dollars

The Australian betting company Sportsbet paid out more than 1 million Australian dollars early to those bettors who wagered on a win for that country’s Labor Party. The only problem: The conservative Liberal-National Coalition appears to have won. The Irish bookmaker Paddy Power similarly paid early on a Hillary Clinton win before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. [BBC]


101, 100, 108, 102

Prankster hackers accessed the account of President Trump — notorious golf cheat — in the United States Golf Association’s Golf Handicap and Information Network, entering the terrible scores of 101, 100, 108, and 102. Par for a round is typically 72, and Trump sports a handicap of 2.8 above that, a number “that is widely regarded as excessively flattering.” [Golfweek]


1 billion years younger

The universe may have just gotten quite a bit younger. Detailed analysis of cosmic radiation had placed its age at 13.8 billion years, but new research in the Astrophysical Journa pegs it between 12.5 billion to 13 billion years old. “The discrepancy suggests that there’s something in the cosmological model that we’re not understanding right,” said one team leader, Nobel laureate Adam Riess. Anyway, I’ll be expecting hefty reimbursement for all those belated birthday gifts. [NBC News]


176 million copies

It’s the 10th anniversary of the video game Minecraft, and its owner Microsoft announced that the game, across all platforms, has sold 176 million copies. That could make it the best-selling game of all time. The only problem is no one can agree on how many copies exactly Tetris has sold — estimates range from 170 million to 425 million, depending on who’s counting and which versions they include. In any case, people love blocks. [PC Gamer]


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Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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