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Significant Digits For Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015

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

3 years

The last recorded case of polio in sub-Saharan Africa occurred a little more than a year ago, on July 24, 2014. Barring any new cases, it’s only about three years until sub-Saharan Africa can be declared polio-free. There have been 34 cases of polio around the world in 2015 thus far, down from a half million in 1980. Nice work. [AllAfrica]

13 two sided sheets

Someone has found another manuscript — only 13 two-sided sheets worth of story — from a dead or infirm beloved literary figure to milk for some cheap cash. Isn’t this just classic publishing industry nons–

Wait. It’s a Tolkien story? Sweet.

It’s out in August in the U.K., but it’ll be out in April in the U.S. Where’s my passport? I think it’s time for an unexpected journey. [Wall Street Journal]

21 tons of TNT

A huge explosion rocked the harbor of Tianjin in northern China on Wednesday. At least 44 people are dead from the fires and blasts, which originated in a warehouse holding volatile chemicals. There were several individual explosions during the inferno; the largest produced the force equivalent to 21 tons of TNT detonating. [BBC and Reuters]

28 hours

The driver of a truck that caused a serious injury to actor Tracy Morgan and killed another person had been up for 28 consecutive hours prior to the crash. [Bloomberg]

32 exoplanets

I guess we ran out of mythological figures, because the International Astronomical Union is allowing people to vote on the names of exoplanets in other solar systems. Obviously a bunch of nerds showed up, so we’re probably going to have planets named after hobbits. Speaking of, vote for my “Bilbo” entry! [Popular Science]

40 interns

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are being sued by 40 current and former interns for wage theft. At least it’s not 80 interns suing, all of them identical twins who alternated their intern duties as they saw fit. [Moviefone]

2,500 jobs

Kraft Heinz Co. — the Frankenfood empire that resulted from a Warren Buffett-orchestrated merger in March — is looking to cut 2,500 of its roughly 46,000 employees to reduce costs. [Reuters]

20,000 Sun King Beer Cans

An Indianapolis brewery printed “TOM BRADY SUX” in the expiration date on its cans thanks to the initiative taken by an employee only known as Biscuit. This raises more questions than it answers, namely which of you FiveThirtyEight Deflategate commenters owns a brewery and why haven’t you said this before? [ESPN]


According to documents obtained by Gawker, that’s how much money Buzzfeed spent in “cost of revenue” in the first six months of 2014, which includes money paid to places like Facebook for advertising campaigns the site was running. Buying traffic has become a big part of how sites drive traffic to advertiser posts — you need to get a certain number of eyeballs on sponsored content and the advertising copy might not cut it. [Gawker]

96 million

Someone dumped 96 million black floating “shade balls” into Los Angeles’s water supply! But it’s cool, because that someone is the city of Los Angeles and they are trying to protect the water they do have from evaporation. It’s the latest in a series of schemes, the main one being “just use less water.” [The Huffington Post]

CORRECTION (Aug. 13, 11:20 a.m.): An earlier version of this article misspelled the names of Mary-Kate Olsen and her sister Ashley.

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.