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Significant Digits For Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017

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


10 Kennedy interruptions

Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered the likely swing vote on a case about extreme partisan gerrymandering, asked 5 questions and made 5 statements to the Wisconsin attorneys and 0 of either to Democrats who want the partisan maps struck down. This is considered a good sign for the Democrats, as justices are statistically more likely to take the side of a petitioner they don’t pepper with questions. [FiveThirtyEight]


34 unicorns

That’s the number of new billion-dollar-valued startups (or “unicorns”) in China since mid-2015, compared to 39 in the U.S. over the same period. China is catching up to Silicon Valley when it comes to churning out expensive and jacked-up companies that are worth lots of money on paper. [Quartz]


54-point gap

Guns are about the most divisive issue in America. A Pew Research Center poll found 22 percent of Democrats chose protecting gun ownership rights over limiting access to guns, compared to 76 percent of Republicans. That staggering 54-point gap makes abortion look like an issue with a minor divide, same-sex marriage look like a mild discussion point and marijuana legalization look essentially unanimous. [FiveThirtyEight]


78 earthquakes

Number of earthquakes caused by a seismic swarm in Yellowstone National Park in September, down from 894 in August, 425 in July and 1,028 in June. Earthquake swarms are nothing to be hugely worried about — and part of me thinks this may just be viral marketing for that “Geostorm” movie coming out this fall — but now all that’s left to do is wait for scientists to analyze the data left behind. [Gizmodo]


20,093 shots

That’s the score obtained by Adam Rolston on a golf hole that’s a 2,011-kilometer, 82-day trek across Mongolia. I want to believe par is 20,092 shots and he’ll have to take the bogey. [The Guardian]


70,000 ng/kg

Measured level of dioxin in areas near the 14-acre San Jacinto Waste Pits in Texas following Hurricane Harvey. Generally, 30 ng/kg is enough for the EPA to recommend a cleanup. The hurricane appears to have spread toxic sludge. [Houston Press]


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CORRECTION (Oct. 6, 5:16 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly described the number of earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park. The figures given for September, August, July and June were for earthquakes caused by a seismic swarm, not earthquakes overall.

Walt Hickey is FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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