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Significant Digits For Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019

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


$7.5 billion

The price of goods from the European Union is set to go up after the World Trade Organization approved a U.S. request to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion in imports, citing subsidies to the aircraft company Airbus by the governments of several European countries. In a summary of its findings, the WTO said the U.S. first lodged complaints in 2004 and the E.U. had failed “to take appropriate steps to remove the adverse effects or … withdraw the subsidy,” resulting in the U.S. suffering a significant loss of sales. The European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom, said any new tariffs levied by the U.S. would be “short-sighted and counterproductive” and could lead to counter-tariffs. [CNBC]


600,000 pardons

The Mainichi Shimbun, a major Japanese daily newspaper, reports that approximately 600,000 petty criminals will be pardoned to mark Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony on Oct. 22, according to unidentified government sources. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga would not confirm or deny a government plan for amnesty, telling reporters, “We are currently considering the matter carefully. I refrain from commenting on details.” An enthronement ceremony held for former emperor Akihito in 1990 resulted in pardons for 2.5 million people. [Reuters/Straits Times]


500,000 YouTube subscribers

Some people rely on earplugs or melatonin to get to sleep, but 500,000 YouTube subscribers watch videos of 17-year-old Owen Dennis Riley pretending to be a great boyfriend. He is part of a growing number of content creators producing a niche kind of video that combines techniques that trigger autonomous sensory meridian responses (often called ASMR for short) and boyfriend role play. Riley’s most popular video garnered 2 million views, earning him about $6,000. [The New York Times]


14th-least-predictable week

Many of the results from Week 4 of the NFL season ⁠— the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running up a huge score against the defending NFC champion LA Rams; road upsets from the Panthers, Raiders, Browns and Titans; even a surprise performance from the Lions against the Chiefs ⁠— weren’t just a surprise, they also really didn’t match pregame probabilities. FiveThirtyEight’s Elo model of pregame forecasts (based on power ratings and things like major injuries) was so different from the actual results that Week 4 was rated the 14th-least-unpredictable week of any NFL season since 1970. Senior sportswriter Neil Paine says, “Week 4 proved once again that we never know as much about the NFL as we think we do.” [FiveThirtyEight]


360 million years old

Fossilized shark teeth are pretty common, but because of how rarely skeletons and other parts of the animals are preserved, scientists don’t know what early sharks looked like. In the eastern Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco, paleontologists were astonished to find several skulls and an almost complete skeleton from a primitive shark genus called Phoebodus, expanding scientific knowledge of the animal far beyond its mouth. The discovered fossils, which were about 360 to 370 million years old, revealed an eel-like body with a long snout, similar to the modern frilled shark. [National Geographic]


98 degrees

The name of Nick Lachey’s former boy band was unfortunately also a description of the weather in the District of Columbia on Wednesday, where the temperature hit a record 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius). Much of the eastern United States experienced an unusual heat wave the second day of October, with D.C. breaking its previous all-time monthly temperature record of 96 degrees, set on Oct. 5, 1941. The cities of Baltimore; New York; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Wilmington, Delaware, also set new temperature records in the low to mid 90s. [The Washington Post]


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