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Significant Digits For Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015

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

3 correspondents

While all eyes have been on the debut of Stephen Colbert at the “Late Show,” the “Daily Show” with Trevor Noah added three new correspondents. Ronny Chieng, Desi Lydic and Roy Wood Jr. are joining “The Best F#@king News Team Ever.” [Gothamist]

5 bears

Five polar bears have captured a team of scientists in Russia. The bears are, according to CNN, “hungry” and blocking two meteorologists and an engineer from leaving a weather station. It has come to a point where the team is begging the Russian government for equipment to scare the bears away. Get a camera there. Get a camera there right now, CNN. I will watch a team of unhappy researchers try to evade bears for far longer than your coverage of that plane. [CNN]

15.6 percent

According to a survey of Harvard freshmen, the percentage of the incoming class who are the first in their families to go to college. That said, a whopping 16.8 percent of the Harvard freshman class had one or more parents who went to Harvard, and 27.8 percent overall reported some relative had attended the school. [The Crimson]

71 percent

At 71 percent, Japan has the highest median favorability rating of nine Asia-Pacific nations in a public opinion survey of the region. China enjoys a 57 percent favorability rating. North Korea was not surveyed, though, so take this with a grain of salt, I suppose. [Pew Research Center]


The number of laboratories to which the military accidentally sent live samples of the anthrax virus — substantially higher than originally stated. Are you worried that some of that live bioweapon was accidentally sent to a lab in your state? Well, fret no longer, because now we know that yes, live anthrax was indeed sent to every single state. Also Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Whoops. []

250 million kilometers

The Tajik state news agency announced this week that a nearby planet — 250 million kilometers away from Earth and located between Mars and Jupiter — had been named after Tajikistan. But no such thing was done by any international body, and the alleged planet most likely doesn’t exist. The “International Astrophysicists Union” that reportedly named the planet certainly does not exist. I worry that we’ve stumbled on a bit of a Russell’s teapot situation here. [Calvert Journal]

4,200 people

Italy and Greece are struggling to deal with an influx of migrants, with two new ships carrying more than 4,200 people arriving in Greece yesterday. The Dublin Regulation holds that refugees seeking asylum in the European Union must apply in the first country they set foot in. Since Italy and Greece are, geographically speaking, pretty obviously on the Mediterranean, they’ve seen some of the largest influxes of people seeking asylum from the Syrian civil war. [BBC]

66 percent

Percentage of the construction toys market controlled by Lego last year. The company reported favorable earnings yesterday and is still apparently seeing growth as a result of last year’s “The Lego Movie.” [Bloomberg]

$5 million

Damages sought in a lawsuit by Harris Faulkner, a Fox News host, from Hasbro, which makes the Littlest Pet Shop line of toys. The line includes a plastic hamster named Harris Faulkner that the television personality claims resembles her likeness. In some personal news, I probably need to disclose my forthcoming suit against the My Little Pony line of toys over its “Colt Hickey” toy, which as “the pony that drinks too much and doesn’t shave as often as he should” has unfairly appropriated my likeness and personal brand. [The Guardian]

10 million tapes

As a millennial, it’s my obligation to say, “Golly, what’s a cassette tape, haha?” here, but I’m going to skip that and just get to the meat: There is not only a company that still manufactures audio cassette tapes, but it’s also making a mint doing so. National Audio Company sold 10 million tapes last year and sales are up 20 percent this year. Music cassettes account for about 70 percent of their sales. There is life after disruption by tech startups, it seems. [Bloomberg]

CORRECTION (Sept. 3, 10:58 a.m.): An earlier version of an item in this article misstated the distance of an alleged planet allegedly named after the country Tajikistan. It is allegedly 250 miles away from Earth, not 250 kilometers. It still definitely doesn’t exist.

CORRECTION (Sept. 3, 2:25 p.m.): This is what happens when we write about fake planets. A previous correction to an item in this article again misstated the distance of an alleged planet allegedly named after the country Tajikistan. It is — fictionally — 250 million kilometers from Earth, not 250 miles.

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.