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Significant Digits For Thursday, June 14, 2018

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


3 Californias

A plan to split California into three states, bankrolled by a billionaire venture capitalist named Tim Draper, is eligible for the midterm ballot in that state in November. The three new states would be called, rather lamely, California (sure, but maybe confusing?), Southern California (uh huh) and Northern California (got it). Draper had earlier suggested splitting the state into six pieces but presumably ran out of cardinal directions. Even if Californians vote for the plan — polls suggest they likely won’t — it’d still have to pass the state legislature and Congress. [Splinter]


19 percent

The men’s World Cup begins today in Russia, and Brazil is the favorite to win it all according to our prediction model. Spain and Germany round out a Big 3 at the top with 17 and 13 percent chances, respectively. That said, Brazil had a 45 percent chance last time around (when they hosted the tournament) and then this happened. On my birthday. Auf geht’s Deutschland. [FiveThirtyEight]


27-year impasse

In other hot geographical cardinal directional naming news, the Republic of Macedonia is getting a new one: the Republic of North Macedonia [italics mine]. The country itself has not physically moved. What happened was that after Yugoslavia split apart in the early 1990s, one of its pieces declared its independence as the Republic of Macedonia. Its southern neighbor Greece did not like this, however, because Greece has a region in its north also called Macedonia, and Greece took all this amazingly seriously, blocking Macedonia (the country one) from entering the European Union and NATO. Anyway they’ve reached an agreement — Γεια μας and Наздравје to all parties involved! [NPR]


80,000 deaths a decade

A Harvard economist and biostatistician published an essay in which they claim that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed policies would lead to the death of 80,000 more Americans a decade. Such proposals include the weakening of clean air and water rules and chemical regulations. The EPA responded: “This is not a scientific article, it’s a political article.” [Bloomberg]


260 million standardized test scores

Based on data from over a quarter-billion standardized tests, Stanford researchers have found that, across the country, girls perform about the same as boys in math — contrary to the tired stereotype. However, in school districts that are rich, white and suburban, boys tend to outperform girls. The research suggests that this discrepancy is due to “local norms” that have a larger effect on boys than girls. In every district in the data, however, girls performed better than boys in English. The study is “one of the most comprehensive looks at the gender gap in test scores at the school district level,” according to the New York Times’ Upshot. [The Upshot]


219 billion tons of ice a year

We’re melting. The planet, I mean. And very fast. Antarctica’s ice sheet is dumping 219 billion tons of ice a year into the ocean. That rate has tripled in the last decade, and the melting raises the sea level by a half-millimeter each year. [The Washington Post]


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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