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Significant Digits For Monday, Sept. 24, 2018

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


Corollary 3.12

A few years ago, Shinichi Mochizuki, a famously brilliant mathematician at Kyoto University, posted online what was meant to be a proof of the “abc conjecture,” an important idea in number theory. The would-be proof was hundreds of pages, which themselves referred to hundreds of other pages, and jeez just boy was it a slog — but a slog generally accepted as correct. Until recently. New research has shed doubt on reasoning behind the proof’s Corollary 3.12. “I think the abc conjecture is still open,” one of the researchers said. “Anybody has a chance of proving it.” Anybody? Good luck, SigDig readers. [Quanta Magazine]


$3.1 million at the box office

“Fahrenheit 11/9” — documentarian Michael Moore’s latest feature film, which is about the Trump presidency and named after the day his victory was announced — underperformed at the box office, earning just more than $3 million in its first weekend. Just a swap of titular numerals away, “Fahrenheit 9/11” — Moore’s 2004 picture about the Bush presidency, inter alia — remains the highest grossing documentary of all time, according to Box Office Mojo, having earned some $119 million in theaters. [Variety]


2 tiny hopping robots

Two tiny hopping robots sent into space by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have landed on the asteroid Ryugu. And I mean, as far as the significance of this digit goes, enough said, because that’s really cool — but the robots are going to stay up there for a while doing their cool stuff, as they “are designed to hop along the asteroid’s surface, taking photographs and gathering data.” [Space.com]


About 4 percentage points

The news on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh moved fast over the weekend. Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school, reached a deal with the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify on Thursday. Then, Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, called for a delay in any further consideration of the nominee after The New Yorker reported on Sunday that another woman said Kavanaugh exposed himself at a party when the two were students at Yale. Right before all of this, FiveThiryEight reported that the nominee’s net support had declined by about 4 percentage points since Ford’s accusation. “But that’s a small enough shift that we can’t rule out the chance that it’s simply statistical noise.” [FiveThirtyEight]


4-day visit

President Trump is scheduled to take a four-day visit to his hometown of New York City this week, during which time he will speak to the United Nations — a year after the speech in which he referred to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” — chair the U.N. Security Council for the first time, and sit for dinners with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. [The Associated Press]


5 years

Tiger Woods won his first golf tournament in more than five years on Sunday, claiming the Tour Championship at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Course. [AFP]


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.

CORRECTION (Sept. 24, 2018, 10:20 a.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” gets its name from the day President Trump was inaugurated. The film title refers to the day Trump’s election win was announced.

Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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