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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017

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

103 miniature swarming drones

The U.S. military launched swarms of 103 miniature drones from several F/A-18s in an exercise. The likeliest use of the swarms — which can sneak through air defense systems like the noble warrior pigeon of old — will be surveillance. [BBC]


At least 800 of the 2,500 students at St. Charles East High School in Illinois did not show up Monday due to what is believed to be a norovirus outbreak. The school was closed on Tuesday for a deep bleach. [ABC News]

$20 million

Vegas was burned by the huge Clemson comeback in Monday’s college football championship game. Gamblers bet close to $20 million on the game in Nevada, and based on reports from several sports books, most of their money was on the underdog Clemson Tigers. It turns out people love betting against Alabama, and for once it actually worked. [CBS Sports]

521 million British pounds

The international soccer body FIFA announced it will expand the number of teams in the 2026 World Cup from 32 to 48. So, why not make the digit “48”? Well, this is significant digits, and the main thing you should take away from the expansion is that FIFA research found a 48-team tournament would increase revenue to 5.29 billion British pounds (about $6.5 billion). That would boost projected profits for the not-for-profit group by 521 million pounds. [BBC]

$1.5 billion

George Lucas will build the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles — not Chicago or San Francisco, which had previously been candidates to host to the Star Wars creator’s $1.5 billion eclectic collection of stuff. Thus comes to an end a long and dismal saga, at least until someone tries to reboot it over some perceived slight. [Bloomberg]

24.9 billion yen

Japan has a program where citizens can earmark a portion of their taxes to go to their hometowns. It’s a way for people who move to the big city to support the more rural areas whence they came. Technically, though, it’s a way for city dwellers to support a hometown, not necessarily theirs. Once the boonies picked up on this, they started offering booze or beef or other gifts and incentives to people who designate them as their “hometown.” This has been a boon for some areas — Hokkaido got 12.8 billion yen out of the program in 2015 — but it means that cities like Tokyo miss out on tax revenue, to the tune of a 24.9 billion yen loss for the metropolis in 2015. [Bloomberg]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.