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Significant Digits For Monday, Nov. 28, 2016

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

2 percent

In what may be the biggest college football rivalry game of the year, No. 2 Ohio State beat No. 3 Michigan in double overtime, 30 to 27. Last week, Ohio State had a 61 percent chance of making the College Football Playoff and Michigan had a 37 percent shot, according to FiveThirtyEight’s college football predictions. Ohio is now a 90 percent chance of making the playoff, and Michigan’s chances are down to 2 percent. I went to William & Mary, not exactly a big time football school, but as I understand it the College Football Playoff is a recent innovation that decides who gets to eventually lose to Alabama on national television. [ESPN, FiveThirtyEight]

3.7 kilometers

Back in October, the European Space Agency made a very, very expensive crater on Mars. The ExoMars Schiaparelli lander did indeed land, but it did so with such a velocity that it left a discernible scar on the planet rather than coming to a gentle stop on the surface. The ESA announced last week that it has figured out more details about why: A terrifically bad reading from Schiaparelli’s inertial measurement unit made the lander think it was under the Martian surface when it was actually still 3.7 kilometers above it. [Gizmodo]

17 states

California’s bar association is considering a blanket rule that would ban sexual relationships between attorneys and clients. Several attorneys are not cool with this proposal. Indeed, as of May 2015 only 17 states adopted the American Bar Association’s ban on sexual relationships between attorneys and their clients. [The Los Angeles Times]

20 countries

President elect Donald Trump has business interests in at least 20 different countries. These businesses could present conflicts of interest for the president and pose potential security threats. [The New York Times]


Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is dead at age 90. Cuba policy holds a unique place in the annals of U.S. policy discussion — Castro led Cuba over the course of 11 presidencies — so what happens next is really complicated. [FiveThirtyEight]


For the first time since 2002, the Oakland Raiders will have a winning season. The Raiders are 9-2 after beating the Carolina Panthers. [The Guardian]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.