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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018

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

Just under 19 hours

There is a new longest commercial flight in the world starting this week. It’s Singapore Airlines’ service from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey, which will clock in at just under 19 hours. My legs ache just thinking about it. Plus I’ve seen all these movies already. Are we there yet? [Gizmodo]


I’m sure you’ve heard something about this by now, but it bears repeating: there could be “worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs” starting in 2040 because of manmade climate change. If emissions continue at the current rate, it’ll be 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit hotter by that year. The damage could come to $54 trillion unless the entire world economy is dramatically transformed within the next few years. This is according to a United Nations report by 91 scientists and based on more than 6,000 scientific studies. President Trump has “mocked the science of human-caused climate change” and “vowed to increase the burning of coal.” [The New York Times]

19,000 times per minute

The amazing and long-lived Hubble Space Telescope orbits 300 miles above the earth. It has six small gyroscopes that help it maintain its orientation as it does so, helping it take iconic pictures of our universe, and they each spin 19,000 times a minute. One of these failed over the weekend, however, and Hubble has gone into “safe mode.” Get well soon, Hubble. [Motherboard]

22,000 people

There really is nothing better in this world than a cartographic dustup. The latest comes to us from the Shetland Islands, off the coast of Britain, which are home to some 22,000 people. Often, the islands have been displayed on maps in a little box or inset, much like Alaska and Hawaii often are on maps of the United States. But a new Scottish law decrees that the islands “must be displayed in a manner that accurately and proportionately represents their geographical location.” [popcorn.gif] [The Washington Post]

Winds from 111 to 129 mph

Hurricane Michael, which became a Category 1 storm yesterday and is forecast to possibly become a Category 3, with winds from 111 to 129 mph, is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle. It appears it will hit the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and mandatory evacuations have been ordered for specific areas. [CNN]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores today — I hope you dig it.

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

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.