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Significant Digits for Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014

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

13 years in prison

The sentence for a wealthy real estate developer convicted in China of buying and eating 3 tigers. The man was also fined 1.55 million yuan (almost $250,000). Trafficking has decimated the tiger population, which has dropped from about 100,000 a century ago to 3,000 today. [The Straits Times]

19 accidents

The number of plane crashes in 2014, according to the Aviation Safety Network. The count, which is below the 10-year average, looks at incidents with 14 people or more, and disregards two crashes — Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine, and the AirAsia crash this past weekend. Air safety statistics are varied and often disagree. [The Verge]

28 detainees

Five Guantanamo Bay detainees were released to Kazakhstan, the Defense Department announced Tuesday. This year, 28 detainees have been transferred to other countries, including Uruguay and Afghanistan, the largest number since 2009. There are still 127 detainees who remain in the prison. [New York Times]

50 percent of films

An analysis found that 15 of 30 animated releases by DreamWorks Pictures were “fueled by hyperactive talking animals.” Thanks to the hacking of Sony Pictures, the poor performance of DreamWorks in 2014 mostly went unremarked upon in the media. The studio had a rough year, with two major releases failing to meeting box office expectations. [The Daily Dot]

51 percent of devices

Apple won Christmas, representing 51 percent of device activations in the week leading up to Dec. 25. The company’s success may be buoyed by the rising share of “phablets,” or phones the size of small tablets, such as the iPhone 6 Plus. Phablets exploded in popularity this Christmas, tripling their share of activations compared to last year. More people activated a phablet than activated full-sized or small tablets. [Quartz]

58 percent

The market share for Internet Explorer. Microsoft is reportedly working on a new browser, code named Spartan, to be offered when Windows 10 is released. Internet Explorer has a 2 percent market share on mobile. Call your parents (or grandparents) and alert them that other browsers exist. Together, we can make a better internet in 2015. [Wired]{

60 percent

In a typical year, the flu vaccine is effective at reducing diseases with flu-like symptoms by about 60 percent. But the CDC announced this season’s flu outbreak has not been typical, reaching epidemic levels. The vaccine’s effectiveness this year may be about 40 percent. Widespread cases are not yet reported in New York, but in any event I urge you to please refrain from licking the handrails on the subway for the time being. [CBS News, via @theZorb]

126 officers

In 2014, 126 law enforcement officers were killed on duty, compared to 102 in 2013. [New York Times]

2:15 a.m.

That’s when George Stephanopoulos wakes up every day to host Good Morning America, one of many morning talk show hosts to greet the day just as this writer is about to crash. Savannah Guthrie of “The Today Show” wakes up at 3 a.m., and co-anchor Matt Lauer is up by 4 a.m.. [New York Times]

$1 billion

That’s how much oil tycoon Harold Hamm was ordered last month to pay his ex-wife following the largest divorce settlement in U.S. history. Hamm’s $19 billion fortune has fallen by half after an oil price crash, and he’s since appealed the ruling. Hamm holds a 68 percent stake in Continental Resources, the top driller in the North Dakota’s oil boom. This is why I personally don’t invest in volatile commodities like oil, and instead invest in online shopping, Seamless orders and late night saki. [Reuters]


Days before the next Significant Digits, and, coincidentally, also the number of cases of champagne at the New Year’s Eve party I’m attending tonight. We’re off until next Monday. Have a happy new year, stay safe and if you see a significant digit out in the wild, tweet it to me @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.