Skip to main content
ABC News
Significant Digits For Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019

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

15 percent of pharmacies

Nearly half of the opioid pills sold in the U.S. from 2006 to 2012 were purchased by just 15 percent of the pharmacies, according to the Washington Post’s ongoing analysis of a large federal pain pill database. That 15 percent includes pharmacies such as Shearer Drug in Clinton County, Kentucky, which had the equivalent of 96 pills per person, based on that county’s population. [The Washington Post]

10,000 firearms

Since the mass shootings at Christchurch mosques that killed 51 people, New Zealand’s government has purchased more than 10,000 firearms as part of a buyback program. The government there, by a vote of 119-1, outlawed most automatic and semiautomatic weapons and set aside NZ$150 million to buy the guns that were newly illegal. [The Guardian]

1,650 species

The Trump administration announced yesterday that it would dramatically weaken the Endangered Species Act — the law “credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction.” Some Republicans have long argued that it places an “unnecessary regulatory burden” on businesses, while environmentalists note that humans could soon drive a million species into extinction. Since the law was passed in 1973, 1,650 species have been added to its rolls as threatened or endangered, while 47 have been removed from it thanks to growing populations. [The New York Times]

8 million simulated universes

Over three recent weeks, scientists at the University of Arizona used that school’s Ocelote supercomputer to generate 8 million simulated mini-universes, in which, presumably, there were 8 million simulated mini-Significant Digits columns that you were reading on 8 million simulated mini-mornings on 8 million simulated mini-iPhones. In any case, the work was done to better understand how real world galaxies develop and evolve. [Engadget]

44 percent of campaign days

There is a man named Joe Sestak who is reportedly running for president, and he has spent 44 percent of his campaign days in the great state of Iowa, a far higher share than any other candidate. But fear not, Iowa has still enjoyed its share of love from the field — major Democratic candidates have spent a cumulative 336 days campaigning there, and 216 campaigning in its fellow kingmaker, New Hampshire. Nevada, however, which also goes early in the nomination process, has been largely overlooked, with just 74 cumulative days of campaigning. [FiveThirtyEight]

$10 billion market

Nike is launching a kids’ sneaker subscription service, Nike Adventure Club, whereby, depending on your chosen tier, your 2- to 10-year-old child will receive a new pair of sneakers in the mail every one, two or three months, presumably saving a harried trip to the mall. However, I always enjoyed shoe shopping for ancillary mall Orange Juliuses. Perhaps Orange Julius should start a symbiotic subscription service. Anyway, the kids sneaker market is worth an estimate $10 billion. [Reuters]

From ABC News:

SigDigs: Aug. 13, 2019

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.”

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.