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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017

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

7.4 feet or more

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that floods of at least 7.4 feet could hit the New York area once every five years from 2030 to 2045. Floods of that magnitude hit New York about once every 25 years now. (Before 1800, they hit once every 500 years.) [Bloomberg]

40 percent

After Purdue Pharmaceuticals — which is partially owned by the secretive Sackler family — changed the formulation of OxyContin pills to make them more difficult to grind into an even-more-abusable powder, prescriptions apparently fell by 40 percent. The explosion of OxyContin use has fueled a devastating opiate epidemic in the United States, and if plans to market the drug abroad succeed, potentially other parts of the world too. [The New Yorker]


A military judge will soon decide the fate of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and President Trump’s comments about Bergdahl may have some bearing on that decision. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after leaving his base under questionable circumstances. He has pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. His counsel, though, has made a renewed push for the case to be dismissed, raising questions about whether Bergdahl received a fair trial given that Trump has called him a traitor on at least 45 different occasions. [NPR]

61 percent

Percentage of Americans who think John F. Kennedy was not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald alone, according to a SurveyMonkey poll conducted for FiveThirtyEight. Later this week, a final batch of government documents related to the assassination may be released. These will presumably prove my theory: The CIA — which was invented by the Mafia with the dual goals of making frogs gay and also rigging the 1985 NBA draft lottery — foiled simultaneous Communist and anti-Communist assassination plots orchestrated by the original Paul McCartney to cover up the truth that Magneto did it. Or maybe it was Oswald. [FiveThirtyEight]

$149 song

A Canadian man was reportedly slapped with a $149 (Canadian dollars) ticket for screaming in public after he was pulled over singing along to “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory at what most would consider a perfectly acceptable volume. [CTV News]

162 candidates

In a third-quarter fundraising performance that’s getting attention from both sides of the aisle, at least 162 Democratic congressional candidates competing in 82 districts currently held by a Republican have raised over $100,000 so far. That’s a solid gauge for aggregate candidate quality this early in the cycle, and is about four times as many well-funded candidates as Democrats had at the same point in the 2016 and 2014 election cycles. It’s twice as many as Republicans fielded at the same point in the 2010 cycle that swept them into power in the House. [POLITICO]

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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.