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Significant Digits For Monday, Nov. 19, 2018

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


$1.8 billion

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, is giving $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. The gift is apparently the largest college donation in modern times and is meant to make the school’s admission process “forever need-blind.” [The Washington Post]


35 percent

(Sponsored by Mott & Bow) Upgrade your wardrobe without burning a hole in your pocket. This holiday season save big by identifying the best Black Friday sales and taking full advantage. One brand is offering 35 percent off their already great prices sitewide. Benefit from lower prices on everything from button downs and tees to jeans and cashmere sweaters. These once-a-year deals disappear quickly. Once you spot one, act fast before you miss out.


7 games, 7 draws

The World Chess Championship this year is a best-of-12-game match between the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen and American challenger Fabiano Caruana. Thus far, after the first seven games in London, each game has been a draw, and the match is level in points. Should the 12 games end tied, “rapid” and possibly “blitz” tie-breaking games would ensue, and if those are tied, the match will be decided in a chess format called “Armageddon.” [FiveThirtyEight]


More than 10,500 homes

The “Camp Fire” in California has now destroyed more than 10,500 homes. It has killed at least 77 people — the deadliest American wildfire in a century. [Associated Press]


536 A.D.

Take solace, fellow living humans: According to some scientists, 536 was the worst year ever to be alive. It was what used to be called the Dark Ages, and a “mysterious fog” darkened entire continents day and night. That fog is now thought to have been caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland. A plague in Europe followed a few years after, and things were just really nasty all around. Plus, “A Christmas Prince” wasn’t even available yet on Netflix. In any case, I eagerly await 2018’s ranking when the dust settles. [Science]


2 centimeters across

Wombats are the only animal known to drop cubic poop. Each piece is about 2 centimeters across, and wombats collect 80 to 100 poops in a night. They then strategically place them “around their domain” to mark their territory and attract mates. The cubic nature of the poop is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation, improving “stackability” and making the poops less likely to roll away. [Gizmodo]


2.5 percent of children

Some 2.5 percent of American children may have a peanut allergy. Now, an experimental drug derived from peanuts and called AR101 may be able to protect some children from their life-threatening allergies. It has yet to be approved for sale, but a study funded by the drug company Aimmune found that two-thirds of the children taking AR101 could ingest the equivalent of about two whole peanut kernels while experiencing “no more than mild symptoms,” compared with only 4 percent of children in the placebo group. [The Wall Street Journal]


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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