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Significant Digits For Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018

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

26.5 million viewers

The Oscars — which garnered a record low 26.5 million viewers last year — will try and improve the ratings for its live awards telecast by telecasting fewer of its awards live. It will also introduce an award for “outstanding achievement in popular film.” Because as we all know the things that truly deserve to be awarded are those things that have already been richly rewarded. [The Hollywood Reporter]

13-point overperformance

“5 for 5!” and “RED WAVE!” President Trump declared on Twitter yesterday following Tuesday’s special election results. But those exclamations are not exactly fair readings of what went down. In Ohio’s 12th District, for example, Republican Troy Balderson appeared to edge out Democrat Danny O’Connor — but that was a Democratic overperformance of 13 percentage points compared to the district’s partisan lean, in line with the 16-point average overperformance in federal special elections so far. [FiveThirtyEight]

4 million miles from the Sun

A NASA spacecraft called the Parker Solar Probe is embarking on a journey toward the Sun this weekend, where it will endeavor to solve some solar scientific mysteries. It will get within 4 million miles of the star, closer than any spacecraft before it, where temperatures reach 3 million degrees Fahrenheit. But don’t worry, it’s a dry heat. [The Verge]

541 million years ago

Speaking of scientific mysteries, something like half a billion years ago there were things called Ediacaran organisms that dominated our planet’s seas. They were very weird and made up of “branched fronds with a strange fractal architecture.” Were they algae, or fungi, or from some lost kingdom of life? No one could figure it out. But researchers, studying hundreds of their fossils, have now concluded that these fractal lifeforms were animals, unlike any we know today. [Science]

1 Muslim woman

And speaking of elections, Rashida Tlaib won the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th district and will run unopposed in November. That positions her to become the first Muslim woman in Congress. [The New York Times]

$570,900 in avoided losses

Christopher Collins, a Republican Congressman from New York, was arrested yesterday and charged with insider trading. According to the indictment, he learned a drug trial had failed thanks to his position on a biotech company board. He is said to have traded on the information, avoiding $570,900 in losses, while his son and another defendant did the same, avoiding $768,000 in losses. “We are confident he will be completely vindicated and exonerated,” Collins’s attorneys said. [AP]

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.