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Significant Digits For Monday, Oct. 8, 2018

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


Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday by a 50-48 vote. (Lisa Murkowski voted “present” and Steve Daines was absent.) In percentage terms, it was the narrowest margin for a Supreme Court confirmation vote in more than 130 years. But there have been other close calls. Stanley Matthews, a James Garfield appointee, was confirmed by one vote, 24 to 23, in 1881. More recently, in 1991, Clarence Thomas was confirmed 52-48. [Los Angeles Times]

$100,000 doorstop

For decades, David Mazurek used a rock as a doorstop — a perfectly sensible thing to do. It turns out, however, that the rock is actually the sixth largest meteorite to ever be found in Michigan, and it’s worth $100,000. “I’m done using it as a doorstop,” Mazurek told the AP. [Associated Press]

1 perfect game

Ryan Verdugo, a pitcher for the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions and the Kansas City Royals before that, threw the first perfect game in the history of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Verdugo’s MLB career consisted entirely of 1⅔ innings in 2012 during which he surrendered eight hits, two walks and six earned runs. []

17 anonymous sources

According to a Bloomberg report last week, China used tiny microchips, placed on server motherboards, to infiltrate nearly 30 American companies including Amazon and Apple. But Amazon and Apple challenged the report and the Department of Homeland Security said it “had no reason to doubt” the companies’ statements. Bloomberg, whose article is based on 17 anonymous sources, is standing by the story. [Reuters]

2 million pounds and up

On Friday, a Banksy painting shredded itself immediately after being sold for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s in London — a prank precipitated by the artist in an apparent statement against the commercialization of art and the excesses of the art market. However, the shredded painting may be worth far more now — some 2 million pounds ($2.6 million) or more, according to a website that resells Banksy pieces. [Slate]

48 percent of the vote

The U.S. midterms are a few weeks away, but luckily for us it’s always Election Day somewhere. Most recently, Brazil voted in its presidential election, and it’s now set to go to a runoff between the far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro and the leftist former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad. In the first round of voting, Bolsonaro had 46 percent of the vote and Haddad 29 percent. [Reuters]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s out tomorrow — I hope you dig it.

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

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.