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Significant Digits For Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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

5 percent

The federal government awarded $25.4 billion in federal contracts to women-owned businesses in 2017, which constituted 5 percent of the money doled out that year. That small percentage is a high water mark, up from 3.25 percent of contracts in 2008. [The Center for Responsive Politics]

270 feet

That’s the length of the largest rotor blades made by Siemens Gamesa in northern Denmark, a hub for wind energy businesses. That the blade is so long is a key to helping wind power become profitable. The largest offshore wind turbines now produce 20 times as much power as the turbines of 30 years ago, and wind energy now makes up 4 percent of the global energy supply. [The New York Times]

50 percent

It turns out you can significantly distort celebrities’ faces and people will still recognize them. MIT neuroscientists found you could significantly compress a celebrity’s face and there wouldn’t be any falloff in our recognition accuracy. Even when distorting the image to make it a mere sliver of a face, people still recognized half of the celebrities put in front of them. [Discover Magazine]

600,000 pilots

Number of active pilots in the United States in 2017, down from over 800,000 pilots in 1980. That’s kind of insane when you think about it; how are fewer people answering “hell yeah” to the question, “Would you like to disregard your own biological infirmity and soar into the sky in defiance of nature?” Listen, Icarus made some valid points is all I’m saying. [TechCrunch]

$90 million

A Guardian review of public records linked Fox News host Sean Hannity to shell companies that spent at least $90 million on over 870 homes over the last 10 years. Some of the property was obtained with support from the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development. [The Guardian]

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

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.