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Significant Digits For Monday, April 8, 2019

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

2 years

The Trump administration is asking for up to two years to locate what could be thousands of children who were separated from their families at the border. The Justice Department said that it would take “at least a year” to review some 47,000 cases of unaccompanied children taken into government custody in 2017 and 2018. [Associated Press]


Two Oregon college students allegedly tried to pull one over on Apple, shipping fake iPhones to the company, claiming they were defective, in order to obtain genuine replacement iPhones. The students would then ship the real ones overseas where they were sold, getting a cut of the profits in return. One of the students was connected to 3,069 iPhone warranty claims, and officials said the losses to Apple totaled nearly $900,000. [The New York Times]

100 days of mourning

It’s been 25 years since the Rwandan genocide that killed 800,000 people, or roughly a tenth of the country’s population. Rwanda is marking the anniversary with 100 days of mourning — the same amount of time over which the genocide took place in 1994. [BBC]

As many as 1 billion birds

Hundreds of millions of birds die every year in the U.S. after crashing into buildings, according to ornithological research. And new research from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ranks the deadliest cities. Chicago — “with its many glass superstructures that spike into what is the busiest US avian airspace during migration” — tops the list. Houston and Dallas are Nos. 2 and 3, sitting on popular migration routes. [The Guardian]

3.5 billion times the mass of the sun

On Wednesday, an international team of astrophysicists and other scientists are expected to unveil the first ever photograph of a black hole — a “groundbreaking result from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project,” said the National Science Foundation. Two black holes were the focus of the telescope’s study. One, Sagittarius A*, has 4 million times the mass of the sun and is 26,000 light years from Earth. The other, M87, has 3.5 billion times the mass of the sun and is 54 million light years from Earth. Say cheese! [Reuters]

30 insects at a time

To develop a vaccine for malaria, scientists need access to mosquitoes’ salivary glands, where the malaria-causing parasite is found. This painstaking work requires the procedure to be performed on each individual mosquito by hand. To accelerate the process, the biotech firm Sanaria and roboticists from Johns Hopkins have created a tiny guillotine that can decapitate 30 mosquitoes at a time. Tiny heads will roll. [Wired]

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News headlines today: April 8, 2019

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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.