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Significant Digits for Friday, Dec. 13, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. Today’s number is 368, the number of seats the U.K. Conservative party was projected to win according to exit polls taken soon after the polling stations closed on Thursday.


1,100 pounds of methane an hour

A special investigation from The New York Times using “a specialized infrared camera fitted with a lens made not of glass, but metal” found at least six sites in the West Texas oil fields that emitted “disproportionately high” amounts of methane. The gas is a major contributor to global warming, but several companies in the energy industry have lobbied the Trump administration to weaken regulations regarding the repair of leaks and limitations on overall methane emissions. A 2017 study quantified methane releases of 60 pounds or more an hour as “super emitters,” and the Times investigation found one site emitting almost 1,100 pounds an hour. [The New York Times]


10 percent on charity works

If you’re a Catholic thinking about donating to the poor and the needy through a church charity, I’ve got some bad news for you about “Peter’s Pence.” The Wall Street Journal reports that as little as 10 percent of the approximately $55 million in annual donations actually goes toward charitable works, and most of the funds are used to help fill in the Vatican’s budget deficit. Donations to the fund have also declined in the last few years due to the ongoing sex-abuse crisis and concern from regular Catholics about the Vatican’s overall financial transparency. [The Wall Street Journal]


33 current and former NCAA athletes

An investigation from the USA Today Network has found there are no rules preventing Division I athletes “found responsible for sexual or violent misconduct” from competing in the NCAA, even after they have been expelled, suspended or found guilty of criminal charges. As a result, athletes can transfer to other schools and quickly return to playing. The investigation found at least 28 cases of current and former athletes who, since 2014, had been “administratively disciplined for a sexual offense at another college” and transferred to keep playing. There were also five other cases of athletes who “continued playing after being convicted or disciplined for such offenses through the courts.” [USA Today Network]


74 percent of millennials

If you’re a person between the ages of 23 and 38, you’re a millennial, so you’ve been accused of killing everything from diamond sales to power lunches. You’re also likely not to go to church over the holidays. Daniel Cox and FiveThirtyEight’s Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux looked at data from a new national survey from the American Enterprise Institute and found some of the reasons millennials tend to leave religion and stay gone, including how they grew up, who they choose to marry and whether they think religious people are tolerant of others. Online dating had a huge impact as well: The survey found 74 percent of millennial Americans who are unaffiliated with a religion also have a nonreligious partner or spouse. [FiveThirtyEight]


10 former NFL players

On Thursday, two unsealed federal indictments revealed that 10 former NFL players had been charged with submitting false medical reimbursement claims worth more than $3.9 million in 2017 and 2018. The players included former Washington running back Clinton Portis, and the charges included wire fraud and health care fraud. The Justice Department also said the claims were often for $40,000 to $50,000, and included the fake purchase of hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines and an electromagnetic therapy device designed for horses. [Bloomberg]


44,000-year-old paintings

A new paper published this week in Nature has changed the way we understand the history of cave painting. Researchers have confirmed that analysis of a painting showing a “dynamic scene” of several hunters and two types of animals inside an Indonesian cave is definitively the oldest rock art in the world and was first applied by an artist approximately 44,000 years ago. Science Magazine reports the scene features “tiny, animal-headed hunters armed with spears cornering formidable wild hogs and small buffaloes.” It predates the oldest depictions of hunting scenes in Europe by at least 20,000 years. [Science Magazine]


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