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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016

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

5 meteorologists

It seems like this happens every year, but five Russian meteorologists are surrounded by polar bears and trapped at a remote weather station on a frozen island. Sources indicate that the scientists recently ran out of the flares they were using to scare away the beasts, which in meteorology is considered a real bummer. A weather bureau 1,200 miles away plans to send more flares soon. [NBC News]

5.2 percent

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Tuesday that median household incomes in 2015 saw the largest year-over-year growth since the start of the survey in 1968, a 5.2 percent jump to $56,516. [FiveThirtyEight]

23 percent

Increase in motorcycle deaths in Michigan from 2014 to 2015, according to a road safety study that linked the uptick to a 2012 law that repealed the requirement for motorcyclists to wear a helmet. The sponsor of that bill, state Rep. Peter Pettalia, was killed Monday in a motorcycle crash. He was wearing a helmet. [Michigan Radio]

27 percent

Colorado sold $122.7 million in medical and recreational marijuana in July, a 27 percent year-over-year jump from that month in 2015. The recreational market accounted for a little more than two-thirds of the sales. [The Denver Post]


The Tennessee House of Representatives has expelled a legislator over alleged sexual misconduct. The chamber voted 70-2 to kick out Jeremy Durham, who has been accused of inappropriate conduct with nearly two dozen women. [The Tennessean]

90 percent

Congress mandated that NASA find 90 percent of the nearby asteroids that measure at least 460 feet across — the kind that could wreak havoc if they ever hit Earth — by 2020. NASA has now found 20 percent to 25 percent of the 25,000 estimated to fit that bill, and the agency won’t hit the target without more funding. If you are a wealthy supervillain interested in funding the U.S. space program, well, have I got an arbitrage opportunity for you. [FiveThirtyEight]

CORRECTION (Sept. 14, 10:45 a.m.): According to a correction attached to a linked article, an earlier version of an item misstated the number of asteroids measuring at least 460 feet across that scientists believe are near Earth. There are thought to be about 25,000, not 125,000.

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.