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Significant Digits For Thursday, May 17, 2018

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. Some personal news first: I’m leaving FiveThirtyEight soon to start a forthcoming daily newsletter, Numlock News. SigDig will absolutely continue with a new writer, but if you’ve been a fan of my run please subscribe!

3 percent

That’s the amount of French agricultural land allocated to growing grapes for wine, according to a 2000 study. That same study found that wine grapes also accounted for 20 percent of total pesticide use in the country, and a later study found trace amounts of pesticides in 90 percent of French wines in supermarkets. These stats have prompted a small number of vineyards to pursue organic farming, which strips down the amount of chemicals and technological fixes applied to the modern glass of wine. [The Guardian]

10 years

Aged Japanese whiskey is enormously popular, but that’s a bit of an issue for whiskey producers who do not own time machines, which is all of them. Demand for the aged whiskey now vastly exceeds the amount of whiskey that Japanese distilleries decided to make decades ago. The price of Japanese whiskey has thus begun to skyrocket as producers remove items from the shelves. One whiskey company’s CEO said that shortages may last around 10 years. [Kotaku]

22 climbs

Congratulations to Kami Rita, a veteran Sherpa guide who on Wednesday set the record for most climbs of Mount Everest with his 22nd summit. He first climbed the world’s highest peak at age 24. Wednesday also saw another milestone when Lhakpa Sherpa extended her record with a ninth summit, the most of any woman. [ESPN]


Three Republicans joined Democrats in the Senate to pass a resolution that would undo the FCC’s decision to deregulate the broadband industry and repeal net neutrality rules. The attempt to protect the neutrality of the web will now go to the House where it faces a considerable battle. [Ars Technica]

1,500 to 2,000 fighters

That’s the U.S. estimate for the number of Islamic State fighters currently operating in Afghanistan, believed to be half the level it was 18 months ago. U.S. and Afghan forces are preparing for a new offensive from the Islamic State expected to come soon. [The Wall Street Journal]


The oil-rich nation of Qatar has been trying to pay $100,000 to help keep D.C. subways open for an extra hour Thursday so fans could ride home after Game 4 of the Washington Capitals’ Eastern Conference finals series. That now seems like it maybe isn’t going to happen. But hey, if any of you happen to be the king of some ultra-wealthy petro-state and want to dump your coffers into an infinitely demanding money pit, the New York City Subway And Rodent Nature Preserve is open for business! [The Washington Post]

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

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.