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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015

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


Saturday September 12 was technically the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. That may come as a surprise to those paying attention since there were zero hurricanes in the northern hemisphere this weekend. That’s the first time that we’ve had a storm-less peak in 38 years. [Science News]

3 percent

Donald Trump uses an iPhone. But @realDonaldTrump doesn’t always tweet from one. An in-depth investigation of the GOP frontrunner’s tweets from April 23 through Sept. 14 has found that — given his iPhone usage — at most only 3 percent of his 3,197 tweets were offered by Trump’s own gilded thumbs. [Mother Jones]

33 percent

Ta-Nehisi Coates is out with a fantastic essay on mass incarceration and the impact it has had on the black American family. It’s packed with fascinating stats, but most striking to me was the data on parole: In 1984, 70 percent of parolees were not arrested during their parole period and obtained full freedom. By 1996, that number crashed to 44 percent, and in 2013 it was 33 percent. [The Atlantic]

400 kilograms

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will increase the power of the rockets it uses to deliver things to space, allowing the company to transport up to 400 kg of payload to low earth orbit. People won’t be going into orbit — yet — but communications satellites will, and those come with lucrative contracts. [The Washington Post]


The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. — which is far cooler than it sounds, believe me — recently wrapped up an art installation comprised of a giant ball pit in the middle of the museum. Following the cleanup, the National Building Museum had recovered $433.24 worth of American legal tender lost in the ball pit. [The Washington Post]


The year of a court document containing what may be the first use of the word “fuck” in a sexual context in the English language, according to a researcher at Keele University. It is a person named “Roger Fuckebythenavele,” a truly lamentable name in any period. [Quartz]

$3 million

How much money the National Pork Board pays every year to license the slogan, “The other white meat,” from the National Pork Producers Council. That seems like a lot for a slogan, but it seems like far too much when accounting for the fact that the National Pork Board stopped using that slogan in 2011. The current slogan for America’s pork farmers is “Pork: Be Inspired.” [POLITICO]


After installing new check processing equipment, the IRS is now unable to process any check that exceeds $99,999,999. Assuming you are profoundly in debt to the IRS, the agency now requests you either wire the money or send multiple checks. [The Associated Press]

$113 million

The former U.S. Consulate in Mumbai was sold to India’s eighth richest man for $113 million, the largest ever residential real estate purchase in the nation. The U.S. had a 999 year lease on the property since 1957 and has been itching to get out of it since 2011. You read that right. I’ve love to hear more about how we got into a thousand year lease on the Indian seaside. [Quartz]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.