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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017

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


5 animals, 12 crops

Here’s something that’s only mildly unsettling: three-quarters of the food for people on Earth comes from only five animal species and 12 crops. This seems like an issue, given that we’re one major disease, famine or blight away from losing a major component of our food. [The Guardian]


13 percent

Puerto Rico is in crisis, and the Jones Act, a law that costs an estimated billions of dollars annually to Puerto Rico, is not helping. The Jones Act requires foreign vessels bringing goods to the island to either pay high taxes and tariffs to unload there, or to take a detour to the mainland before an American ship takes the goods to Puerto Rico. This ensures Puerto Rican cost of living is 13 percent higher than other urban areas in the U.S. [The New York Times]


23 players

A Boston University study published yesterday compared the brains of 23 former football players known to suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, 50 patients who did not play football but did have Alzheimer’s disease, and 18 control brains. The study found elevated levels of one protein only in the brains of ex-players with CTE. This may open the door to a CTE test that can be conducted on living patients. [The Washington Post]


55 percent

Roy Moore, a former judge who was twice removed from office, has beaten Sen. Luther Strange in a runoff to win the GOP Senate primary in Alabama. This is a blow to establishment Republicans and the President, who backed Strange. [CNN, FiveThirtyEight]


280 characters

Twitter has decided to go through with it and finally torpedo the thing that makes their product tolerable: The company is testing a doubling of the maximum length of a tweet. Lucky beta testers will get 280 characters, so users will have twice as many opportunities to sabotage their reputation. [The New York Times]


$1 billion

This week marks the beginning of the production for four sequels to the film “Avatar.” The combined cost of the four totally necessary movies is expected to be over a billion dollars. [Deadline]


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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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