Skip to main content
ABC News
Significant Digits For Friday, Aug. 2, 2019

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

8 candidates

The most recent Democratic presidential debates, which featured an unwieldy slate of 20 candidates, are behind us. The next debates, scheduled for mid-September, feature stricter criteria for qualification. Only eight candidates have met them so far and another two are close. To make the September stage, candidates have until Aug. 28 to amass 130,000 unique donors and at least 2 percent in four polls. [The New York Times]

197 billion tons of water

In July, 197 billion tons of water melted from the Greenland ice sheet and into the North Atlantic. The last day of the month saw the most melt of any day since at least 2012. About 60 percent of the ice sheet saw at least a millimeter melt away from its surface, while wildfires broke out on Greenland’s western edges. [The Washington Post]

$1.8 billion

Over three days last month, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, sold $1.8 billion worth of his Amazon stock. The filings that showed the sale also showed that Bezos’s former wife, Mackenzie Bezos, is now the second-largest Amazon shareholder with a stake worth more than $37 billion. Previously, Bezos had said that he’d sell some $1 billion of stock a year to fund Blue Origin, his rocket ship company. Billionaires: Just absolutely nothing like us. [Reuters]

2,700 chess games

A new chess algorithm called SentiMATE learned the game not by playing it but rather by reading about it. The program pored over the expert commentary for 2,700 games using a “state-of-the-art model for analyzing language,” in the process learning about tactical chess staples such as forking and castling. In the end, SentiMATE didn’t play very well, but the program may be a proof of concept for computers learning from published human knowledge. [MIT Technology Review]

1 million pages of evidence

The sex trafficking trial of Jeffrey Epstein will feature a million pages of discovery evidence, according to prosecutors, including documents from devices seized from his Manhattan mansion. While no date has been set — the prosecutors want it to start in June and the defense in September — prosecutors said the trial would last four to six weeks. [The Daily Beast]

15 accounts

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who have north of 9 million followers on Instagram, have unfollowed everyone on Instagram! They plan to follow 15 accounts on Monday, drawing on users’ suggestions, in order “to highlight various causes, people or organisations doing amazing things for their communities and the world at large.” [Elle]

From ABC News:

SigDigs: Aug. 2, 2019

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.”

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

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.