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Crunching the Numbers on Mortality

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data mortality death infographic

Crunching the Numbers on Mortality

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

One of the key traits that make human beings unique on planet Earth is that we’re aware of our own mortality.

Scientific advances have given us insight into which behaviors may prolong life, and which activities carry the greatest risk of death. Naturally, there have been some unique attempts to create a unified structure around risk and benefit, and to quantify every aspect of the human lifespan.

As today’s graphic from TitleMax demonstrates, even when we’re thinking about death, the human desire to codify the world around us is alive and well.

Mortality Units

Certain events – such as a parachute failing to open or being hit by a meteor – have an easily quantifiable effect on life, but how do we measure the riskiness of day-to-day habits and situations? This is where a unique unit of measurement, micromorts, comes into play.

This concept, invented by renowned decision analyst Ronald A. Howard, helps compare any number of potentially lethal risks. One micromort equals a one in a million chance of sudden death. Here’s the riskiness of various activities measured in micromorts:

ActivityMicromorts
Ascending Mount Everest37,932
Getting out of bed (Age 90)463
Being born (first day of life)430
Giving birth170
Playing Football20
Riding a motorcycle10
Running a marathon7
Rock climbing3
Travelling 6,000 miles by train1
Travelling 230 miles by car1

Life Units

The average person, by the time they reach adulthood, will live approximately one million half-hours. Those 30 minute units are known as microlives.

The microlife concept was invented by professor David Spiegelhalter as a way to measure the consequences of various behaviors. For example, 20 minutes of physical activity earns us two microlives, while watching TV for two hours subtracts one microlife.

This measurement extends beyond nutrition and eating habits. Simply living in a modern era earns us an additional 15 microlives per day compared to those who lived a century earlier.

Casting the die on how we’ll die

How will the estimated 353,000 humans that will be born today eventually meet their end? This was the thought experiment conducted by Reddit user, Presneeze.

causes of death

While our focus is often drawn to people who meet their end in spectacular and tragic ways, the vast majority of humanity will succumb to conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

Geography can play a big role in shifting these odds:

  • In the United States, which is grappling with an opioid addiction crisis, there is a 1-in-96 chance of dying from a drug overdose.
  • Diarrheal diseases may not be on the radar of most people living in first world countries, but in developing regions, they remain a leading cause of preventable death – particularly for children.
  • In Russia, the odds are 1-in-4 that a man will not live beyond 55 years. The main culprit? Vodka.

On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

–Chuck Palahniuk

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Misc

Airline Incidents: How Do Boeing and Airbus Compare?

This graphic shows U.S. airline incidents across the two largest aircraft manufacturers in the world as Boeing faces increased scrutiny.

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This area chart shows airline incidents across Boeing and Airbus since 2014.

Airline Incidents: How Do Boeing and Airbus Compare?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

For decades, the global airline manufacturing industry has been run by a duopoly, split between American titan Boeing and European manufacturer Airbus.

After years of safety issues, the American aircraft manufacturer has come under fire after a door flew off a Boeing 737 MAX 9 on an Alaska Air flight in January, which recently led its CEO to resign. This incident follows two fatal crashes of its aircraft in 2018 and 2019.

This graphic compares the number of U.S. aviation incidents between Boeing and Airbus, based on data from the National Transportation Safety Board.

A Closer Look at Airline Incidents

The U.S. stands as Boeing’s largest market, comprising 58% of annual revenues in 2023.

By contrast, North America was Airbus’s third-biggest market, making up 21% of annual revenues, following Europe and Asia. Below, we show the number of aviation incidents between the two giants since 2014 in the U.S. and international waters:

YearBoeing IncidentsAirbus Incidents
2024204
202313740
202211132
20219924
20205822
20198637
201811225
201710824
201610222
20157121
20146613

*Data for 2024 up to the end of February.

So far this year, Boeing has faced 20 incidents, with the Alaska Air flight as the most high-profile case due to missing bolts in the emergency door causing it to fly off the hinge.

One potential driver that has been identified by the company is that employee bonuses have been heavily tied to financial incentives. Prior to the incident, they accounted for 75% of annual bonuses in its commercial unit, with the remainder tied to operational targets that included safety and quality measures. Now, as the company overhauls its production process, the company is making safety and quality metrics 60% of the annual reward.

For many years, Boeing has faced safety concerns with its aircraft, leading regulators to ground its 737 MAX 8 planes for two years after a fatal crash in 2019. Making matters worse, aircraft regulators have faced sharp budget cuts since 2013, allowing manufacturers to “self-certify” their planes on safety requirements.

Yet quality issues are not exclusive to Boeing. In some of the latest deliveries for Airbus, customers have raised quality concerns along with complaints of delays. In January, for instance, an Airbus A319 plane on a United Airlines flight made an emergency landing due to a potential faulty door.

Leading up to this point, incidents for both Boeing and Airbus hit decade-highs in 2023 amid a record 16.3 million flights in America. The good news is that there were no reported fatal accidents across passenger jet aircraft in 2023. In fact, there have been no fatal crashes across U.S. airlines in almost 15 years.

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