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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018

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


$500 per crossword

The New York Times crossword puzzle is giving its constructors a raise next year. Puzzle editor Will Shortz announced that the rates for a weekday puzzle would increase from $300 to $500, and for a Sunday (which are bigger) from $1,000 to $1,500. Constructors earn even more once they’ve published 10 puzzles in the paper — $750 and $2,250, respectively. [The New York Times]


90.5 percent of plastic waste

The Royal Statistical Society in London has announced its “Statistics of the Year.” The winning international statistic is 90.5 percent — as in, 90.5 percent of plastic waste has never been recycled. The amount of plastic waste is estimated at around 6.3 billion metric tons. [BBC]


15 years of litigation

After 15 years of litigation, a federal judge struck down New York’s state ban on nunchucks — that’s Michelangelo’s weapon, for you Ninja Turtle fans — ruling that they were protected by the Second Amendment. The suit was brought by James Maloney, a lawyer and amateur martial artist who was arrested in 2000 for possessing nunchucks. [The Washington Post]


Just under 300 million years

Saturn is quickly losing its rings at a “worst-case scenario” rate. Quickly, that is, by the time scale of large planets and outer space. In just under 300 million years from now, the rings will have completely disappeared, pulled into the planet itself and under the influence of the planet’s magnetic field “as a dusty rain of ice particles.” This reminds me of what is, without question, the single best page on Wikipedia: the timeline of the far future. [Quartz]


$300,000 spilled on a highway

Guess what happened after a Brink’s armored truck scattered hundreds of thousands of dollars on a highway in New Jersey. If you guessed that motorists stopped and scooped up whatever they could, of course you’re right. Less predictable, however, has been the fact that many of those same motorists are now turning that money back in to the authorities. “Several people” have returned a total of about $125,000, while $188,955 is still missing. [NBC News]


202 years

At the current rate the worldwide gap in opportunities for men and women is narrowing, it will take 202 years to fully close the gulf in economic opportunity between men and women, according to a report from the World Economic Forum. Iceland performed best in gender equality, followed by its neighbors just across the sea, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The U.S. was 51st. [Bloomberg]


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.

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

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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