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Significant Digits For Monday, Jan. 26, 2015

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, subscribe.


Average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. on Friday, down $1.25 from a year ago. In many places, a gallon is less than $2, but the national average is dragged north by more expensive gas in Hawaii and Alaska. [Associated Press]

3.6 feet

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wants to fly helicopters on Mars, but achieving flight in the thin Martian atmosphere presents a tricky engineering problem. So far, scientists are experimenting with a helicopter prototype the size of a box of tissues, but the real deal would have a wingspan of 3.6 feet and would be equipped with a camera, to act as a scout for NASA’s rovers. [Vice]

26.9 inches

The current record for snowfall in New York City, a record that may very well be threatened as a colossal storm makes its way east early this week. As the city braces for the blizzard, area supermarkets basically look like something out of “The Purge” and my roommates are appearing to tire of me yelling “your Tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker!” every time they leave the apartment. [FiveThirtyEight]

75 percent

In order to say that your cabernet sauvignon is from Napa Valley, at least 75 percent of it must come from Napa cabernet grapes, with another 10 percent from Napa grapes of other varieties, but less than 15 percent from grapes from anywhere else in California, where wine is substantially cheaper. The Hill Wine Company flouted those rules, and many others, and now its owner is in a whole bunch of trouble with the government. [The New York Times]

80 percent

Brazil promised to cut the flow of raw sewage, pollutants and garbage into Guanabara Bay, outside Rio de Janeiro, by 80 percent in order to make the water safe for the sailing and wind surfing competitions at the 2016 Olympics. That’s not going to happen. [Associated Press]


An unidentified buyer paid a Fort Worth, Texas, history buff $25,000 for a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair at an auction Saturday. It’s unclear whether the individual is a hair enthusiast, a Lincoln enthusiast, or some disconcerting combination of the two. [Reuters]

$4.1 million

The opening weekend take for Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai” was just $4.1 million, his fifth consecutive opening weekend bomb. [Business Insider]

57 million

Dish Network was found guilty of breaking telemarking rules on 57 million occasions, in many cases calling people on the federal “Do Not Call” registry. Penalties can be up to $16,000 per outbound call, which could hypothetically put the satellite company on the hook for $912 billion. A trial is scheduled for July, but would any jury in America fail to put a telemarketer up against the wall if it had the chance? [CBS News via Slashdot]


A mystery buyer has dropped nearly $100.5 million on a duplex penthouse in Manhattan’s new One57 skyscraper, making the sale the first to break the $100 million barrier in New York City. [The New York Times]

140 million people

As much as 80 percent of the population of Pakistan lost power on Sunday after an attack on a key power line. [Sky News]

One more plea for the newsletter: Sign up for it now and be the first to learn about the numbers behind the news. And, as always, if you see a significant digit in the wild, tweet it to me @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.