You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.
13 secret missile sites
American analysts say they have located 13 secret North Korean missile-development sites. The news comes after North Korea canceled a round of negotiations with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and after President Trump declared over the summer that there was “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” [Associated Press]
It’s that time of year when some nasty bug seems to always be going around. But what can you do about it? Can you will it away through sheer brainpower alone, for example, my editor wondered? It seems like no. But one study looked at echinacea and found that those who believed in the power of echinacea and were given a placebo pill had 2.5-day shorter colds that nonbelievers. “Placebo: It’s a hell of a drug,” writes my colleague Anna Maria Barry-Jester. [FiveThirtyEight]
$17.6 billion at the box office
Stan Lee, the iconic comic book writer, has died at the age of 95. Films based in the Marvel Universe he created — including “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “The Avengers” — have earned a combined $17.6 billion at the global box office. [The Guardian]
$400 million in damages
MillerCoors has a deal with Pabst to brew Pabst Blue Ribbon. That deal expires in 2020 and there are options to renew it. But now MillerCoors is saying that it doesn’t have the capacity and needn’t renew. And now Pabst is arguing that MillerCoors is trying to torpedo it. Anyway there’s a $400 million trial going on about this, and if it doesn’t go a certain way we could see the end of PBR. I will drink many PBRs now just in case. [NBC News]
$1.43 per kilogram
The military has been deployed in Tanzania amid a cashew crisis. Cashew farmers there haven’t sold their crop for weeks, saying that prices were too low. The Tanzanian president rejected private offers to buy at $1.30 a kilogram. Trade ministers have been fired. Now, the Tanzania People’s Defense Forces have been ordered to buy the cashews from farmers at $1.43 a kilogram. [BBC]
Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. This is no mean feat — only 32 songs have now done it. Grande is the first woman to do it since Adele and her “Hello” in 2015. Michael Jackson was the first ever to do it, in 1995, with “You Are Not Alone.” [BuzzFeed News]
Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.
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