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Significant Digits for Tuesday, December 16

Editor’s note: This is the first edition of Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. We’re experimenting with it, so let us know what you think.

1.66 cents

Cost to produce one penny, according to the U.S. Mint. While coin costs are falling, nickels also come in over face value, costing 8.09 cents to produce. That’s more than the 5.4 cent cost of printing a dollar bill. [Washington Post]


17 percent

The Central Bank of Russia announced a major rate hike yesterday, raising the main deposit rate from 10.5 percent to 17 percent. The country relies substantially on oil revenues, and the recent drop in the price of crude hasn’t helped the economy, which is seeing low growth and high inflation. [New York Times]


30 percent of the planet’s natural gas

The North Pole has been claimed by Denmark, and with it the vast gas reserves locked up beneath the Arctic sea bed. Denmark — the small European nation that lucked into Greenland a while back — competes with Canada, Russia, Norway and the U.S. over the Arctic, which has an estimated 15 percent of the planet’s remaining oil and 30 percent of its natural gas reserves. [Business Insider]


$49 per pound

Cost of handmade Vermont butter that just went on sale at Saxelby Cheesemongers. Until now, Animal Farm butter was served almost exclusively at restaurants Per Se and The French Laundry, and now you, too, can buy a pound of it with all your leftover milk money. [Grub Street]


65 percent of U.S. adults

A majority of Americans believe the biblical Christmas story (as Pew puts it, “the virgin birth, the journey of the magi, the angel’s announcement to the shepherds and the manger story”) reflects historical events. Among Christians, the number of believers is over 80 percent. [Pew Center]


88 percent of Los Angeles’s water

LA gets almost 90 percent of its water from three aqueducts. These three aqueducts — which sustain 22 million Southern Californians — cross the San Andreas fault 32 times. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti thinks this may be a problem. [LA Times]


150,000 tourists

In 2012, the story of a botched restoration of a Spanish church’s fresco of Jesus went viral. In the intervening years since the retouching, the town of Borgia has seen a renaissance of tourism. The image has attracted 150,000 tourists to the small city, and visitors can pay one euro to glimpse the simian portrait. [New York Times]


10 million dead oysters

Ostreid herpesvirus-1, an oyster herpes virus that can have a 100 percent mortality rate, is sweeping the seas, putting the $4 billion shellfish industry at risk. The virus killed 10 million Australian oysters in a mere three days. [Bloomberg]


$72 million in fake money

This week, New York magazine reported that a high school senior made $72 million investing in the stock market while still in school. Now he’s come clean and admitted he hasn’t made a dime. [New York Observer]


$349 million

Cost of a NASA laboratory tower designed to test a new rocket engine. The rocket it was designed for was canceled in 2010, and the facility is now mothballed. Space, it turns out, is expensive. [Washington Post]

CORRECTION (Dec. 19, 5:43 p.m.): An item in this article originally misidentified The French Laundry as a restaurant in New York. It is located in Yountville, California.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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