Digits: Bogus papers, dirty air, the ‘Charlotte effect,’ and more newsy numbers

How a stingray bumped tourism, an academic paper problem, and more numbers.

115: Times the phrase “As of my last knowledge update” appeared in a Google Scholar search of academic journals, per 404 Media. That’s the phrase that ChatGPT, which only has knowledge up to a specific date, uses when it answers questions, indicating these supposedly peer-reviewed articles were composed by AI. It’s a yikes, for sure, but 404 noted that many of these journals are of poor quality, will publish just about anything, and have long been an issue in the academic community.

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7: Countries that had acceptable air quality, per a report from a Swiss company that examined data from air monitoring stations. Those seven countries included Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, Australia, and New Zealand, plus territories Puerto Rico and French Polynesia. The most-polluted countries were Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India, which all had over 10x the amount of small-particle pollution recommended by the World Health Organization. In the US, Columbus, Ohio, was the most-polluted city last year.

40%: Bump in traffic to Hendersonville, North Carolina’s tourism website, per NPR. The 15k-person Appalachian town has received oversized attention thanks to Charlotte, a stingray who’s pregnant despite not having a mate. Typically, the town only sees an influx of tourists in October thanks to its beautiful fall foliage, but “the Charlotte effect” has produced more foot traffic from curious visitors awaiting Charlotte’s mysterious pup.

3,745: Pieces in Lego’s new Dungeons & Dragons set, developed with Wizards of the Coast in honor of the game’s 50th anniversary. The set, based on an idea from fan designer Lucas Bolt, includes various fantasy settings, a team of adventurers, and popular creatures from the game, like a displacer beast and an owlbear. It’ll retail for $360, but comes with free quests and downloadable character sheets.

Fun fact: Lego’s largest set was its Art World Map, with 11k+ pieces. It’s no longer available, but you can still buy Lego’s second-largest set: the ~10k-piece Eiffel Tower.

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