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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018

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

43 percent of Republicans

A public opinion poll conducted by Ipsos found that a plurality — 43 percent — of Republicans agreed that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Twenty-three percent of Republicans agreed that “President Trump should close down mainstream news outlets, like CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.” [Daily Beast]

$420 a share

Elon Musk, Twitter power-user and CEO of Tesla, did a tweet on Tuesday afternoon: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Tesla stock jumped, and trading was suspended for a bit. At $420 a share, the company would be worth about $71 billion. Less than an hour after that first tweet, though, Musk tweeted “Good morning 😀” so really who knows what’s happening. [CNBC]

4,563 mph

China says it has tested its first hypersonic aircraft, which can travel at 4,563 mph, or Mach 6 — six times the speed of sound. This development puts pressure on the U.S. military but sounds like an appealing development to me. At that rate, my commute home would take roughly 6.3 seconds. [CNN]

More than $120 million

Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, is a very rich man. He’s worth some $700 million. Some of that might have been stolen. Allegations, assembled by Forbes, of money stolen or “wrongly siphoned” by Ross total more than $120 million. “If even half of the accusations are legitimate,” the magazine writes, Ross “could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.” In a statement to MSNBC, the Commerce Department said the Forbes article is “based on false rumors, innuendo and unverifiable claims.” [Forbes]

2 percent of Alexa users

“Hey, Alexa, buy something for me,” said almost no one ever. Only 2 percent of people who use Alexa-equipped “intelligent assistant” devices have used them to make a purchase this year, despite Alexa’s connection to online shopping behemoth No word yet, however, on the timing until the singularity, when Alexas themselves begin buying Alexas, which in turn buy Alexas, and so forth, quickly draining what remains of the world’s usable resources and sparking violent riots, thereby effectively casting aside their primary competition: us. Alexa, order me a survival kit. [The Information]

80,000 kilometers of roadway

Places on Earth that were prosperous in the past, even the long-ago past, tend to be prosperous today. There are various theories about why: dynastic wealth, institutions like libraries and universities, military power. New research offers a new explanation: roads. Romans, like the Roman Empire Romans, built more than 80,000 kilometers of advanced roadway across Europe (a lot of them have lasted for centuries). And the density of those roads in a given place strongly correlates with — and caused, the researchers argue — that place’s prosperity today. [The Washington Post]

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.