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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018

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


232 years

Pittsburgh no longer has a daily print newspaper — it’s now the largest American city with that dubious distinction. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which has existed for 232 years, just cut its print edition from seven to five days a week. [The Incline]


8,300 million metric tons of plastic

We humans have made a ton of plastic during our time on Earth — well, about 8,300 million metric tons. Most of it is now in the ocean or the dump. But some of it — like Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit or works of contemporary art — we’re trying very hard to preserve. Unexpectedly, plastics are a great challenge for conservators. The material is unpredictable and there is “huge variation in forms of deterioration.” [The New York Times]


Down 14.5 percent

Fewer baseballs need anyone to catch them. Thanks to strikeouts and home runs, the number of batted balls put in play was down 14.5 percent last season compared with 1980. As such, defense and defensive positions are starting to mean less and less. My colleague Travis Sawchik writes, “If there are fewer defensive chances available, teams can make the argument that it’s more valuable to chase runs, particularly in an era of launch angle, juiced balls and smaller stadiums.” [FiveThirtyEight]


2,975 dead

The governor of Puerto Rico raised the official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975. The dramatic update is based on independent study by researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. [AP]


300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft

Russia will conduct its largest war games in decades, involving some 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft, according to the country’s defense minister. The exercises are scheduled for mid-September. Last year’s exercises involved 12,700 troops, according to the Russian government. [CBS News]


About 75 percent of major leaguers

In Major League Baseball, maple is the new king. About 75 percent of its players swing maple bats, compared to 20 percent for ash and 5 percent for birch. Deadspin tells the tale of the rise of maple — made popular by one Barry Bonds and his single-season home run record — and the fall of the once ubiquitous ash, complete with an appearance by an insect called the emerald ash borer. [Deadspin]


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

Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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