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Significant Digits for Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014

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

5 years old

The peak age for belief in Santa Claus, according to University of Texas psychologist Jacqueline Woolley, with just over 80 percent of five-year-olds trusting in St. Nick. [The Atlantic]

27 percent of U.S. electricity

Following New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision last week to ban hydraulic fracking, the safety of natural gas is once again in the spotlight. Natural gas is currently responsible for 27 percent of U.S. electricity generation, and the number is rising in part because of fracking projects. Some environmentalists are concerned. [The New York Times]

40 percent of Americans

Federal guidelines indicate that 1.5 ounces of nuts per day is linked to a reduced risk of heart attack, but the CDC reported that only 40 percent of adults ate nuts on a given day, with older people eating substantially more nuts than younger people. I’m taking this news to heart, and from now on will eat Nutella like it’s yogurt. [Washington Post]

51 percent approval

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD don’t share many supporters. While both the mayor and the police department enjoyed 47 percent and 51 percent job approval ratings, respectively, individual subgroups — by borough or race — suggest the support is inverse. De Blasio’s “tale of two cities” campaign slogan still holds true. [FiveThirtyEight]

81 percent

That’s the percent of non-Christians who celebrate the holiday of Christmas. Among nonbelievers — those who describe themselves as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” — 87 percent celebrate the holiday. [Pew Research Center]

1,024 official IP adresses

North Korea lost access to the internet yesterday for about ten hours, inconveniencing a handful of people. The country has 1,024 official internet protocol addresses (and potentially a few more unofficial ones). That’s fewer than the number of IP addresses on many blocks in New York City. [The New York Times]


How much Long Island man Sammy Nahas says he has spent on Christmas decorations in the past year. He estimated he’s spent over $100,000 in the past three years. [Time Magazine]

850,000 kids

The estimate for the number of children who visited a Santa Claus in the post-Thanksgiving weekend, according to International Council of Shopping Centers trade group. Of people who went to the mall to see Santa, 70 percent reported they would also do some shopping. [Bloomberg News]

$322 million

Victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme are set to receive a new round of payouts totaling $322 million, bringing the total restitution to around $7.2 billion. That’s about half of the lost principal. [Bloomberg News]

$7.5 billion

When the Castro regime nationalized the assets of foreign companies operating within Cuban borders in 1959, American companies filed claims worth $1.9 billion with the U.S. government’s Foreign Claims Settlement Division. Those claims are worth upwards of $7.5 billion today and are no doubt on companies’ radars now that the U.S. and Cuba are defrosting. [Talking Points Memo]

See a significant digit out in the wild? Tweet it to me @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.