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Significant Digits For Wednesday, July 31, 2019

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

Dozens of families

At least dozens of wealthy families in suburban Chicago are ceding the legal guardianship of their college-bound children to “a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent” so that these children can call themselves financially independent and thereby qualify for federal and state financial aid. “It’s a scam,” the director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told ProPublica. [ProPublica]

200 million “bathroom miniatures”

By 2021, InterContinental Hotels Group, the owner of Holiday Inn, plans to swap out the 200 million “bathroom miniatures” — those little shampoos and so forth — that it uses in its 843,000 guest rooms each year in favor of bulk-size amenities in an environmentally-minded effort to cut plastic waste. Guess we’ll just have to find new stuff to steal. [Associated Press]

3-meter-wide ball

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, built a 3-meter-wide plasma containment chamber called the Big Red Ball, inside of which they created a model of the mysterious, charged, flowing environment of the sun. Their experiment, published in Nature Physics, was “able to mimic a region around the sun where the plasma hangs in a precarious balance.” [Quanta Magazine]

224 fights

There were a total of 224 fights in the 1,271 regular season games of the 2018-19 NHL campaign. That number was down from 280 fights the season before, and in fact the number of fights has dropped every season for the past decade from a high of 734. Why? “Today, the fourth-liners are cost-efficient skill players instead of goons, and staged fights are a rarity without those pugilists on the rosters,” Greg Wyshynski writes. [ESPN]

2-second clip

Kraftwerk, the pioneering German electronic band, has won a 20-year case in the European Court of Justice concerning a 2-second clip of its song “Metal on Metal.” The court ruled that two hip-hop producers could not sample the track without permission. The ruling “could have huge implications for the music industry” and also comes as an American court ruled against Katy Perry, holding that she copied 2013’s “Dark Horse” from a Christian rap song that Perry claims she had never heard. [BBC]

2.12 carats

A Nebraska schoolteacher visiting Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas discovered, well, a diamond. A 2.12-carat diamond, to be precise, the largest of the 300 or so found at the park this year, where visitors pay up to $10 to search a 37-acre field on top of a volcanic crater. However, the raw brown diamond, large though it may be, is probably only worth about $1,000, based on comparable stones for sale online. [The Washington Post]

From ABC News:

SigDigs: July 31, 2019

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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.