Skip to main content
ABC News
Significant Digits for Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016

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

5 complaints

Austere U.K. television programme “Downton Abbey” tells the story of an upper-class family in the early 20th century living out a soap opera in waistcoats. The PBS show is basically as vanilla as programming on television can get, which bears out in its FCC complaints. Five people sent the FCC notes about the show over its six-season run — several were just upset that their PBS station interrupted the transmission. [Muckrack]

5.1 magnitude “earthquake”

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake observed in North Korea has been determined to be an artificial quake, and North Korea now says it was a test of a hydrogen bomb. Outside observers are skeptical that it was more than a test of a smaller atomic bomb. [Bloomberg]

21 percent better chance of not dying

In 1932, nearly all the 11-year-olds in Scotland took an IQ test. After seeing how their lives played out in the interim, a report from the World Health Organization makes the claim that a 15 percent increase in IQ from 100 to 115 was tied to a commensurate 21 percent increase in the probability of still being alive at 76. [Fast Company]

60 freebies

Donald Trump has produced a paid television advertisement, which is new for him! The notability and general vitriol of the advertising has earned the GOP front-runner about 60 free airings of the ad as a result of coverage by Fox, MSNBC and CNN. [The Huffington Post]

75 percent

Pew Research Center will increase the percentage of interviews conducted via respondents’ cell phones to 75 percent of calls, as the organization slowly phases out landlines. This decision is costly — each cell number has to be manually dialed because of federal regulation, making it almost twice as expensive — but Pew says calling more cells will allow it to get a better sense of American sentiment. [Pew Research Center]


Cost of one gold-encrusted doughnut (topped with Cristal champagne icing) from The Manila Social Club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Rather than get mad at the restaurant, I’m going to assume the doughnut is a test — a fantastic ruse to identify which rich people to eat first when the revolution comes. [First We Feast]

10,000 characters

Twitter is considering upping the number of possible characters in a single tweet from 140 to 10,000, presumably because the leadership of the company is completely out of touch with its primary user base and is desperate for new users. In good news, the stock dropped to its lowest level ever on the news, so perhaps the company will take a hint. [Re/code]

$2 million

Lumosity, a company that claims it can train customers’ brains to avoid the deleterious effects aging has on the mind, will pay a $2 million fine to settle charges with the Federal Trade Commission because it deceived consumers. Lumosity claimed that its games helped people excel on the job and avoid cognitive impairment of aging, but it apparently does none of those things — they’re just dumb games. [NBC News]

5 million people

According to the Council of Economic Advisers, the SNAP food assistance program kept about 5 million people out of poverty in 2014, 2 million of whom were kids. [NPR]

$48.6 million

Apparently the real money isn’t on Wall Street, but in all of our pockets. The richest executives in America are the bosses of companies that make their money from you and I spending money. Of the top 200 paid senior managers, Bloomberg calculated that the average compensation for a consumer discretionary-good company was $48.6 million, 35 percent higher than financial industry CEOs. [Bloomberg]

If you haven’t already, you really need to sign up for the Significant Digits newsletter — be the first to learn about the numbers behind the news.

If you see a significant digit in the wild, send to to me: @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.