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Significant Digits For Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Welcome to Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news.


1.5 percent

Pre-tournament probability that Syracuse University would make it to the Final Four of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. But hey, guess what, here we are. In the last 11 tournaments, only three Final Four teams have been less likely to get there than this year’s Syracuse squad, according to FiveThirtyEight’s pre-tournament odds. I guess that means all the people who went to Syracuse in the office pool are going to win this year, but at least Syracuse isn’t Duke. [FiveThirtyEight]


5 words

A new study looked at 16 billion emails sent by 2 million people on Yahoo Mail. A Yahoo Labs and University of Southern California team found that when they looked just at messages sent between regular corresponders, the most-likely reply was five words long, and more than 90 percent of replies were sent within a day. Based on extensive personal experience, I figure that’s because if you don’t reply within a day, you will never reply. This is as good a time as any to remind you Email Debt Forgiveness Day is right around the corner. [Scientific American]


37,000 feet

An Alaskan volcano is spewing ash and detritus 37,000 feet into the air in a plume over 400 miles long. The Pavlof volcano, which is on the finger of Alaska that that juts westward towards Russia, began erupting Sunday for the first time since 2014. It’s no Eyjafjallajökul, but pilots are still steering clear of it. [CNN]


44,000 signatures

A petition signed by 44,000 people to allow open carry of firearms at this summer’s Republican National Convention was smacked down by the Secret Service, which basically said, “lol absolutely not, are you kidding?” [ABC News]


7 million people

The USGS is out with a new report analyzing risks to Americans who live in areas that may suffer from “induced earthquakes” because of high levels of fracking in an area. About 7 million people live in areas that could suffer such quakes. [The Washington Post]


$14 billion

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has been aggressively pursued by Marriott for a purchase, but just as a deal appeared done, an investment group led by Anbang Insurance Group Co. of China swooped in with a $14 billion offer, throwing several months of work from Marriott right out the well-appointed hotel room window. [Bloomberg]


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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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