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Significant Digits For Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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


The number 0

Bees understand nothing. That is, they understand the concept of the number zero, a concept it typically takes human children years to grasp and for which even the ancient Romans had no numeral. Using drops of sugar as incentives, much like one would with the aforementioned young children, and sheets of paper printed with different numbers of objects, bee researchers taught bees to fly to the sheets with fewer objects. Eventually, the researchers introduced a sheet with zero objects. The bees then flew to that one, too. [Vox]


3 letters

The 2018 men’s World Cup begins Thursday in Russia, but before that happens, international soccer officials will announce the location of the World Cup that will be held in 2026. The U.S., in a joint proposal with Canada and Mexico, is facing off against Morocco to host the event. President Trump himself, as part of a largely hidden campaign, has given U.S. soccer officials three letters addressed to the president of FIFA, which oversees the world game. The letters provide assurances that Trump’s hardline immigration stance on visas would not apply to a World Cup held in the States. [The New York Times]


8 ancient baobabs

Over the past 12 years, the ancient baobab trees in southern Africa have been dying. A team of researchers discovered that eight of the 13 oldest trees — all of which are between 1,000 and 2,500 years old — either died completely or saw their oldest parts collapse. They called it “an event of an unprecedented magnitude” and attributed it, at least in part, to climate change. [BBC]


389 words

That’s the length of the official statement signed by President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un after their Tuesday summit in Singapore. The statement largely aligned with pre-summit expectations: North Korea would work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the U.S. would commit to providing security guarantees for the heretofore rogue state. Many, however, viewed the language as overly vague and weak, essentially a concession to Kim. [The Guardian]


$1.3 million

The state of Maine did an experiment. On Tuesday, election day, the state became the first to use ranked-choice voting to decide a statewide race. A typical election in the U.S. uses a system called “first past the post,” wherein you vote for one candidate and the candidate with the most votes wins. In Maine’s ranked-choice system, if there are more than two candidates, you, uh, rank them, and a potentially multistage candidate-filtering process then unfolds. Also on the ballot on Tuesday: a referendum on ranked-choice voting itself. Its supporters invested $1.3 million in a campaign to keep it. [Bangor Daily News, FiveThirtyEight]


$82 million in outside income

While serving in the White House last year, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump earned at least $82 million in outside income. The money came from a stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, severance from the Trump Organization, an apartment complex in New Jersey, and elsewhere. It’s “an extraordinary income flow that ethics experts have warned could create potential conflicts of interests,” according to the Post. [The Washington Post]


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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