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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018

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

60 percent of vertebrate species

According to a new report from the World Wide Fund For Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund), there has been an average 60 percent decline in vertebrate animal species population — you know, like mammals, fish, birds, etc. — between 1970 and 2014. “Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions,” the report reads. The cause? “Exploding human consumption.” (I assume that’s consumption on the part of humans of other things and not like, well, the other thing it could mean.) [BBC]

99 competitive races

Tick-tock goes the election clock. The House battleground is currently really big, my colleague Nate Silver writes. Ninety-nine of the 435 races are competitive — that is, each party has at least a 5 percent chance of winning the district — according to our “Deluxe” model. That’s compared to 44 such races in 2014. [FiveThirtyEight]

2,500 military scientists

Over the past 10 years, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has sent 2,500 military scientists and researchers to universities overseas, according to an Australian nonpartisan research institution. The Chinese scientists are concentrated in the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada — five countries that tend to share intelligence with each other. However, the Chinese military sometimes conceals those researchers’ military affiliation, and on occasion associates them with home institutions that do not exist. [The New York Times]

2,681 planets

The Kepler Space Telescope is dead. Long live the Kepler Space Telescope. The NASA craft discovered 2,681 planets since its launch in 2009, along with many more promising outer space “blips.” Kepler ran out of fuel. It will be missed. [The Verge]

3,890 wild tigers

And speaking of animals and China, China is rescinding its 25-year-old ban on trade in products made from endangered tigers and rhinos. Tigers’ bones and rhinos’ horns are used in traditional Chinese medicine, according to the AP. It’s estimated that there are fewer than 30,000 wild rhinos — a number that is falling fast — and fewer than 4,000 wild tigers. [Associated Press]

1 million lost users

Facebook saw zero growth in the U.S. and Canada and lost 1 million users in Europe last quarter. God bless you brave million. Go outside. Dance. Sing. Frolic. Be free. [TechCrunch]

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 is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.