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Significant Digits for Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015

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


The new cost for Pandora, an advertising-supported streaming service, to stream a song for the next five years. The U.S. Copyright Royalty Board raised the rate from $0.0014. Last year Pandora paid $446 million in licensing costs, so the $0.0003 bump will add up. [Quartz]

1 retraction

Harper’s Magazine has issued its first retraction in 165 years of operation, a 1998 article by Stephen Glass. “Prophets and Losses” told the fabricated story of Glass working as a phone psychic. It was one of many that Glass fabricated. [Retraction Watch]

24.3 miles per gallon

Average fuel economy rate for passenger cars and light trucks in 2014, unchanged from the previous year’s levels. [Bloomberg]

28 keystrokes

Pressing the backspace key 28 times when prompted for a username will allow users to crack into Linux systems, a team of researchers has found. This makes me furious. Not because of the security flaws — I stopped using Ubuntu after college. But what about all those lives we lost during the events of “Jurassic Park,” when we couldn’t guess the magic word on Dennis Nedry’s computer? We could have just used this trick to reset the park’s security the whole time! This is cold comfort for Ray Arnold‘s widow. [Lifehacker]

153 percent fresh

The Rotten Tomatoes score that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” would need to earn in order to restore the franchise to its pre-prequel glory. Sure, Rotten Tomatoes scores are maxed out of at 100, but the new movie is nearly there. Early reviews, which are bound to change, have it at 95 percent fresh. [FiveThirtyEight]

1,400 props

Sylvester Stallone is auctioning off more than 1,400 props from his films this weekend. So whether you’re a “Rocky” fan or just a Philadelphian looking to commemorate the time a local sports hero looked promising but still lost a big match, this auction is for you. [SCPR]


Fact: Reefs are good for the ocean. Fact: Coral needs stuff to grow on in order to make a reef. Fact: Coral can grow on tires, and in the 1970s, there were lots of tires sitting in landfills. If you were a Floridian in the 1970s looking at these three facts, you may have come up with a brilliant plan: just throw 2 million tires in the ocean. This seems great on paper, sure, but due to the corroding of metal clips used to connect the tires, has turned into a full blown environmental catastrophe. The tires disconnected and now float around destroying whatever reef remains. It has gone very badly indeed, prompting a massive cleanup. So far 160,000 tires have been recovered, but there are still very many to go. [CBS News]

$50 million

Friedrich Mayrhofer won a $50 million Canadian lottery two years ago, but didn’t claim it until this week. The wait was on purpose: Mayrhofer and his family were organizing their financial affairs, obtaining legal and financial advisers, and planning their newfound wealth with precision, temperance, and foresight. Canada Man really is the opposite of Florida Man when you think about it. [The Hamilton Spectator]

$1.9 billion

Valuation of the Brooklyn Nets and their arena after Russian rich guy Mikhail Prokhorov was approved to buy up the remaining shares from Forest City Enterprises, which owns 20 percent of the team and 55 percent of Barclays arena. [Bloomberg]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.