Skip to main content
ABC News
Significant Digits For Friday, Dec. 20, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. Today’s number is $8.8 million, the price paid at Sotheby’s New York on Wednesday for the original Olympic Games Manifesto written in 1892 by French aristocrat Pierre de Coubertin, which the auction house said set a new world record for sports memorabilia.

1 on the Child Opportunity Index

Where a kid grows up in America can have a huge effect on their long-term prospects — good schools, neighborhood safety, access to healthy food and places to play all play an important role. New data from the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University reveals how access to these opportunities breaks down along racial lines in nearly every major metropolitan area in the U.S. In the Arbor Hill neighborhood in Albany, New York, for example, 97 percent of children are black or Hispanic; the area received a 1 out of 100 on the Child Opportunity Index, one of the lowest scores possible. [National Public Radio]

Nearly 30,000 pigs

African swine fever is continuing to spread, with Indonesia the latest place in Asia to experience an outbreak. The virus has wiped out more than half of China’s herd this year. The BBC reports that, on Wednesday, Indonesia’s agriculture ministry said “nearly 30,000 pigs have died from the disease in North Sumatra.” Other affected countries include Vietnam, the Philippines, Mongolia, Cambodia, South Korea, North Korea, Myanmar and East Timor. [BBC News]

127 homes

Residents in the New York City borough of Queens were told that the cause of a massive sewage backup that flooded 127 homes with raw sewage on Nov. 30 was someone pouring grease down the drain. They were right to doubt that explanation. The New York Times reports that the real culprit was a collapsed pipe. Many residents are still struggling to recover weeks later, and the City of New York might be liable for several million dollars in damage claims. [New York Times]

Up to 100 times more likely

Facial recognition technology can be incredibly unreliable despite being widely used by law enforcement in the U.S. A landmark federal study released on Thursday found that Asian and African American people “were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white men, depending on the particular algorithm and type of search,” The Washington Post reports. The study also found that Native Americans had the highest false-positive rate. [Washington Post]

13 degrees

The next leap in bathroom technology is here: A more uncomfortable toilet! StandardToilet, a British company, has filed a patent for a toilet with a seat that slopes down at 13 degrees, making it a pain to sit on for a long time. The idea here is that companies would put these toilets in workplaces, thus encouraging employees to take care of their business quickly and get back to work. [HuffPost]

38 years of recovery

Some good news from Mother Nature: a multi-decade effort to bring back a bird species from the brink of extinction has been successful enough to move the specifies from “extinct in the wild” to “critically endangered.” There are now at least 260 Guam rail roaming freely on two tropical islands. A long-term captive breeding program was behind the successful population increase, and researchers are hopeful the current number of birds is sustainable. [CNN]

Significant Digits will be on break between December 23 and January 1. The key number during that period is the amount of quality time spent with family and friends. Thanks again for reading, sharing, and subscribing. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone at Team SigDig and FiveThirtyEight.