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America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Sports Betting Industry

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In 2015, Americans bet $149 billion illegally on sporting events.

Today’s infographic from Longitude breaks down America’s multi-billion dollar sports betting industry. It shows the four states where fixed odds betting through bookmakers is legal, and it also compares a more legal alternative that’s available in 43 states.

America's Multi-Billion Dollar Sports Betting Industry

The Sports Betting Industry

Sports betting is a thriving underground business. A recent example of this is Super Bowl 50, which is estimated to have fetched a record-breaking $4.1 billion in illegal bets. Only an additional $100 million of bets, or 3% of the total, were made legally.

But what’s the difference between a legal bet, and an underground one? It all depends on where you live and how the betting is done.

Fixed-odds betting, in which odds are created by a bookmaker, is legal in just four states: Montana, Oregon, Delaware, and of course Nevada.

Pari-mutuel wagering, which instead pools players bets together to calculate odds, is legal in 43 states. Pari-mutuel payout odds depend on the amount of bets, and generate transparent profits because of fixed commission fees paid to the operator.

The US horse racing industry already uses pari-mutuel wagering, and it generates a range of economic benefits. This includes $102 billion in economic benefits generated annually and the support of 1.2 million jobs across the country.

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The Most Popular Wikipedia Pages, 2007-2019

Millions flock to Wikipedia every day to satisfy their curiosity on every imaginable topic. What have been the most popular Wikipedia pages over time?

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The Most Popular Wikipedia Pages, From 2007-2019

Where do you go to satisfy your curiosity about the world? Chances are, most people would turn to Google, where the first search result for virtually any topic is likely to be Wikipedia.

Wikipedia often acts as a quick-and-dirty first source of information—and today’s intriguing animation from Data Geek shows what people are reading about the most. The video highlights more than a decade of the most popular pages on Wikipedia, sorted by total monthly views.

Which topics of interest race to the top?

Note to readers: Page view statistics are only for the English version of Wikipedia, which has nearly 6 million total articles to date.

A One-Stop Shop of Information

Since its 2001 inception, Wikipedia has thrived as an open collaboration project, catapulting it into the ranks of the world’s top websites today. Over the years, the upper limit of views for the most popular pages has dramatically increased.

In 2008, the most popular Wikipedia page belonged to Barack Obama, during his U.S. Presidential campaign, garnering about 3 million views per month. By 2019, the page for the United States took its place at the top, this time soaring to nearly 200 million monthly views.

The 12 most popular Wikipedia pages fluctuate in category, with some expected winners. Throughout the years, World War II shows up consistently in the rankings, likely propelled by research for school assignments.

The U.S. is another undisputed, most-viewed page for nine years in a row (2011-2019). Following the November 2016 U.S. election, pageviews for Donald Trump also leapt into the top three.

Here’s how the most popular pages shake out over a decade:

RankJan 2008Jan 2012Jan 2016Jan 2019
#1Barack ObamaU.S.U.S.U.S.
#2U.S.Lady GagaBarack ObamaDonald Trump
#3Harry PotterThe BeatlesIndiaBarack Obama
#4World War IIBarack ObamaLady GagaIndia
#5Kim KardashianMichael JacksonMichael JacksonWorld War II
#6Britney SpearsIndiaWorld War IIMichael Jackson
#7Miley CyrusEminemGame of ThronesUK
#8SexUKEminemLady Gaga
#9Lil WayneLil WayneUKEminem
#10IndiaWorld War IIThe BeatlesGame of Thrones
#11Will SmithGlee (TV)Justin BieberElizabeth II
#12UKJustin BieberAdolf HitlerAdolf Hitler

Musicians also regularly top the charts, thanks to their illustrious careers and the public’s curiosity about their private lives. Michael Jackson holds a record for longest best-selling artist, but also for one of the most viewed Wikipedia pages, especially after his death in mid-2009.

A Crowdsourced Snapshot of the World

These popular Wikipedia pages provide an interesting angle on current events of the time, although it should be taken with a grain of salt.

For example, the 2008 financial crisis is arguably one of the biggest events of this decade—yet it doesn’t make an appearance in these most viewed pages. One possible reason is that more reputable sources of information exist about the event, as it was widely covered in the media.

Nevertheless, Wikipedia’s mission is to freely share knowledge, relying on over 250,000 monthly volunteers to keep its information accessible by anyone.

Breaking Down Barriers

Boasting over 50 million articles, it’s not hard to see why Wikipedia has reigned supreme as a crowdsourced catalog of information. However, a lesser known fact is that just one man is responsible for a significant chunk of the website’s English-language articles.

In 2017, Steven Pruitt was named one of Time Magazine’s “most influential people on the Internet” for making over 3 million edits and authoring 35,000 original pages on Wikipedia—all for free.

Pruitt is even helping to solve Wikipedia’s gender bias, and has expanded the share of biographical articles about women from 15% to 17.6% in a few short years.

I’m very conscious of what it can mean to make knowledge free, to make information free.

—Steven Pruitt

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Visualizing the Speed of Light (Fast, but Slow)

In our every day lives, light is instantaneous – but in the context of our solar system and beyond, light is surprisingly slow.

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Visualizing the Speed of Light

With the flip of a switch, your room can be instantenously flooded with brightness.

In fact, there is no noticeable lag effect at all.

That’s because emitted photons travel at 186,000 miles (300,000 km) per second, meaning it takes only 1/500,000th of a second for light to reach even the furthest part of an ordinary room. And, if it could go through the wall, it would orbit the entire planet 7.5 times in just one second.

Light Speed is Fast…

In our every day experiences, we never see light as having to “take time” to do anything. It’s inconceivably fast, brightening up everything in its path in an instant — and with a few odd caveats, scientists believe light speed to be the fastest-known achievable pace in the universe.

But what if we get out of our bubble, and look at light from outside the confines of life on Earth?

Today’s animation, which comes from planetary scientist Dr. James O’Donoghue, helps visualize the speed of light in a broader context. It helps remind us of the mechanics of this incredible phenomenon, while also highlighting the vast distances between celestial bodies — even in our small and insignificant corner of the solar system.

Light Speed is Slow…

Once a photon is sent into the vast abyss, suddenly the fastest possible speed seems somewhat pedestrian.

  • Moon: It takes about 1.255 seconds for light to get from Earth to the moon.
  • Mars: Mars is about 150x further than the moon — about 40 million miles (54.6 million km) in the closest approach — so it takes 3 minutes to get there from Earth.
  • Sun: The sun is 93 million miles (150 million km) away, meaning it takes 8 minutes to see its light.

Let that sink in for a moment: the sun could explode right now, and we wouldn’t even know about it for eight long minutes.

Going Further, Taking Longer

If it takes light a few minutes to get to the closest planets, how long does it take for light to travel further away from Earth?

  • Jupiter: The largest planet is 629 million km away when it’s closest, taking light about 35 minutes.
  • Saturn: The ringed planet is about as twice as far as Jupiter, taking light 71 minutes.
  • Pluto: It takes about 5.5 hours for light to go from Earth to the dwarf planet.
  • Alpha Centauri: The nearest star system is 4.3 light years away, or 25 trillion miles (40 trillion km).
  • Visible stars: The average distance to the 300 brightest stars in the sky is about 347 light years.

If you really want to get the feeling of how “slow” light really is, watch the below video and journey from the sun to Jupiter. It’s done in real-time, so it takes about 43 minutes:

So while light obviously travels at a ludicrous speed, it really depends on your vantage point.

On Earth, light is instantaneous – but anywhere else in the universe, it’s pretty inadequate for getting anywhere far (especially in contrast to the average human lifespan).

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