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Significant Digits For Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018

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


42.9 percent with large rating bias

Is news biased or are the readers of news biased? According to an experiment conducted by the Knight Foundation and Gallup — which revealed the source of articles to half of readers and hid the sources from the other half — it seems it’s at least somewhat the latter. “Very conservative” and “very liberal” readers were most likely to be biased, with nearly 43 percent of each of those groups having a “large ratings bias.” For comparison, only 31 percent of moderates had such a bias. [The Upshot]


107 days

It has been more than 15 weeks since NASA heard from Opportunity, the Mars rover which has been roaming the red planet since 2004. But a photo from earlier this month, taken by a NASA orbiter, shows Opportunity on the planet’s surface. The good news is that the little-rover-that-could isn’t buried under dust — a planet-wide dust storm overtook Mars a few months ago. [Gizmodo]


7th “Law & Order” series

“Law & Order” will never die. “Law & Order” will burn in our televisions longer than the sun will burn in the sky and Dick Wolf will appear glowing in the darkness of space like the starchild from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” “Law & Order” will be all that the alien invaders can deduce about our measly culture from the charred steppe of our burnt planet, and they will consider Sam Waterston nothing less than a humanoid demigod. Anyway, there’s going to be a sixth “Law & Order” spinoff, called “Law & Order: Hate Crimes.” [Deadline Hollywood]


7 senators

Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, and Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, are scheduled to testify today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to my colleague Perry Bacon Jr., there are seven senators who will likely decide the fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination. This list includes three Democrats — Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — and four Republicans — Tennessee’s Bob Corker, Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. [FiveThirtyEight]


$1 million math reward

There are few special math problems that carry with them a $1 million prize for anyone who solves them. One of these is to prove the so-called Riemann hypothesis, which I’m not even going to pretend that I understand, save for the fact that it has to do with the distribution of prime numbers. Earlier this week, a mathematician claimed to have a proof, which spans a tidy five-pages — a per-word rate that any journalist would kill for — and has to do with something called a Todd function. Mathematicians are skeptical. The proof “suffers from some internal inconsistencies,” another mathematician told Gizmodo — dreaded words for any journalist, too. [Gizmodo]


41 percent of women

In a rambling press conference on Wednesday, much of which was spent in defense of his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh against allegations of sexual assault, President Trump cited the fact that he won the votes of 52 percent of women. That is not true. Trump won 52 percent of white women voters; he won 41 percent of all women voters. It’s not the first time he’s made the claim. [Mother Jones]


Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s out on Oct. 9 and available for pre-order now — I hope you dig it.

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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