Skip to main content
ABC News
Significant Digits For Monday, May 4, 2015

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. To receive this as an email newsletter, please subscribe.

1 in 50

Drugs don’t always work. Indeed, many of the top selling medications in the U.S. work for few of the people actually consuming them. Statins prescribed to cut cholesterol may only work on as few as 1 in 50 people who take them. This has prompted policymakers to invest in “precision medicine,” in which drugs are designed to work with a particular profile. [Nature]

5 days

A citywide curfew in Baltimore was finally lifted Sunday. The curfew had been in effect for five consecutive nights. [The New York Times]

35 percent

Google is sponsoring professors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities — HBCUs for short — in order to help make the technology workforce more diverse. 35 percent of black computer science graduates got their degree from HBCUs. [The Huffington Post]

81 percent

The Onion’s satirical empire is one of those unique media organizations that is able to boast profitability. One reason is Onion Labs, which develops sponsored advertisements in the publication’s style. It’s only 3 years old but remains responsible for a whopping 81 percent of the company’s revenue. [The Atlantic]


Elon Musk announced a new venture, Tesla Energy, that will sell home batteries that run in part on solar power. The 10kWh version of the Powerwall will sell for $3,500. [TechCrunch]

1.2 million euros

That’s the cost of buying citizenship in Malta. The nation wants to raise 2 billion euros from the arrangement, and the taxes are pretty chill there if you’re the kind of petrochemical gazillionaire or general tycoon who can pay the up-front costs. [The New York Times]

$16 million

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson announced he will join the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The “Draft Ben Carson” campaign has raised almost $16 million so far. [The Washington Post]

$187.66 million

The estimated domestic opening haul for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” this past weekend, the second-largest opening ever. The largest: the first “Avengers” movie. [Business Insider]

$1.18 billion

Amount spent by the top 31,976 donors in the 2014 elections. That group comprised 0.01 percent of the total number of donors but accounted for about 29 percent of money contributed, new research found. [The Sunlight Foundation]

$1.3 trillion

That’s how much money left China between 2003 and 2013. The Chinese government tries to restrict how much cash can be sent outside the country, but corruption and faked invoicing schemes mean that lots of cash can still find a way out of town. [Quartz]

If you haven’t already, you really need to sign up for the Significant Digits newsletter — 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.

CORRECTION (May 4, 12:50 p.m.): This post originally misstated that 35 percent of Google’s black computer programmers graduated from HBCUs. That number applies to the entire industry, not just Google.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.