You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.
66 million years ago
Scientists have discovered fossils that appear to date from the very day, some 66 million years ago, when a meteor slammed into the Earth, occasioning, perhaps, the extinction of dinosaurs. The event, which had the energy of a billion Hiroshima atom bombs, was so violent that, according to a supercomputer simulation, debris from the collision escaped Earth’s orbit and spread to other planets and moons in the solar system. [The New Yorker]
501 amphibian species
Speaking of extinctions … the bacteria Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis — known as Bd — is “perhaps the perfect frog killer” and perhaps the worst disease ever recorded in terms of destroying the tree of life. According to new research in the journal Science, Bd has harmed 501 amphibian species, destroying 90 of those species entirely and eliminating 90 percent of more than 100 others. “It rewrote our understanding of what disease could do to wildlife,” said the study’s lead author. [The Atlantic]
$19,000 for 2 months
Dream job alert: For a study commissioned by NASA and the European Space Agency to better understand weightlessness, the German Aerospace Center is seeking a woman to stay in bed for 60 days — for $19,000 in pay. Beware, though, that the gig involves something called a “human centrifuge.” [Popular Mechanics]
Final 4 teams
And then there were four. The Virginia Cavaliers, Michigan State Spartans, Texas Tech Red Raiders and Auburn Tigers are the sole survivors of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. According to our predictions, their chances of winning the championship in a week’s time are 41 percent, 28 percent, 22 percent and 10 percent, respectively. [FiveThirtyEight]
35 years of Garfield phones
For more than three decades, telephones in the shape of the cartoon cat Garfield washed up on the French shores of Brittany. It was long suspected that a wayward shipping container was to blame, and that container has now been found — “in a secluded sea cave accessible only at low tide.” Speaking of — Mondays, am I right? [BBC]
More than $300,000
Last week, there was the news that Stephen Moore, the author of “Trumponomics” and President Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, was being pursued by the IRS for more than $75,000 in back taxes from 2014. (Moore has said that it’s not true that he owes the IRS that amount.) And, according to records obtained by The Guardian, Moore was held in contempt of court in 2012 for failing to pay more than $300,000 in spousal support, child support and other money owed to his ex-wife in their divorce settlement. (Moore declined to comment on the report to the news outlet.) [The Guardian]
From ABC News:
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.