Skip to main content
ABC News
Significant Digits For Wednesday, April 17, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. For even more facts, figures and discussion, check out our live FiveThirtyEight Politics podcasts in Texas in May.

“15 to 30 minutes”

The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was “15 to 30 minutes” away from complete destruction when it was ablaze on Monday, according to French authorities. The monument of Gothic architecture was saved thanks to the work of the Paris fire brigade. French president Emmanuel Macron said in a television address that he wanted the cathedral rebuilt — “more beautiful than before” — within five years. [The Guardian]

20 percent

(Sponsored by Mott & Bow) For many men, denim is an everyday staple of their wardrobe. When the setting calls for a business casual approach to your dress, the denim you choose should have that premium look without sacrificing comfort. These jeans are made from an incredibly smooth Mercer twill denim featuring a 20 percent stretch factor. They come in a variety of fits, washes and colors, including a new Olive Green, making them an ideal choice for business casual events or for everyday wear.

27,000 NBA games

Who among us hasn’t wondered to what extent the first team to score 100 points usually wins an NBA game? That’s precisely the question the Los Angeles Times sought to answer with a database of 27,000 such games. Indeed that team does — 94 percent of the time. But this 100-point near certainty — dubbed Lawler’s Law after Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler — has become less certain as the number of 100-point games has skyrocketed. [Los Angeles Times]


For decades, plastic has been increasingly common in the ocean — marine animals become entangled in plastic and microplastics have been found in fish, on the seafloor and in Antarctic ice. Now marine biologists believe they may have identified the earliest ever instance of plastic pollution in the ocean, a plastic bag caught in a continuous plankton recorder off the coast of Ireland in 1965. [BBC]

135 miles offshore

Workers on an oil rig 135 miles off the coast of southern Thailand spotted a dog in the increasingly rough waters. They secured the dog with a rope, hauled him to safety, gave him water, fed him meat and set up a kennel. His being in the sea was largely a mystery, but he may have fallen from a fishing trawler. They named him Boonrod. [NPR]

$119.5 million raised

Cash rules everything around me, including campaigns for the American presidency. Candidates must file detailed reports about their fundraising and spending, which are made public by the Federal Election commission, and which are, now, turned into a FiveThirtyEight interactive feature. We’ve broken down who has the most cash, and where it’s come from, be it big donors, small donors or self funding. All told, the Democratic field has raised $119.5 million combined while President Trump has raised $30.3 million. [FiveThirtyEight]

5.5 percent

Speaking of candidates and cash, the Washington Post examined the 2020 candidates’ tax returns and analyzed their levels of charitable giving — what the Post calls “a meaningful metric of their values and priorities.” Elizabeth Warren was the most generous of the “top-tier” candidates who have released their tax returns; she and her husband donated 5.5 percent of their income last year. The comparable number for Bernie Sanders was 3.4 percent. Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar each came in at between 1 and 2 percent. Beto O’Rourke gave 0.3 percent. [The Washington Post]

From ABC News:

News headlines today: April 17, 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.