Half of some species of bats in Switzerland carry malaria, a new study has shown, in research that could help in the search for treatments for the disease.

"/> Half of some species of bats in Switzerland carry malaria, a new study has shown, in research that could help in the search for treatments for the disease.

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SCIENCE

Half of Swiss bats have malaria

Half of some species of bats in Switzerland carry malaria, a new study has shown, in research that could help in the search for treatments for the disease.

Half of Swiss bats have malaria

Malaria, although popularly seen as a disease affecting humans in the tropics, is actually present in many other animals including birds and rodents. Scientists from the University of Lausanne say Swiss bats are infected by a wingless fly, Nyceteribia kolenatii, rather than by a mosquito. The fly lives permanently on the bat and drinks its blood.

 The kind of malaria being studied by the scientists, Polychromophilus murinus, was first identified in the nineteenth century in bats in Italy. Since then little more research has been done on the presence of malaria in European bats. 

The Lausanne scientists studied 237 bats in Switzerland and found that malaria was present in 4 percent of some species, but in 51 percent of one particular bat species.

 

Dr. Philippe Christe, the leader of the study, said the increased understanding of the mechanisms of various species’ anti-malarial defences could help in the search for new treatments for the disease in humans:

 

“This research could open new avenues of investigation into malaria in humans, which is responsible for high infant mortality, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he said in an article on the university’s website.


SCIENCE

π: Swiss researchers calculate most exact figure of pi ever recorded

Using a supercomputer, Swiss researchers have determined the most accurate version of the mathematical formula of pi ever recorded.

π: Swiss researchers calculate most exact figure of pi ever recorded
The symbol for pi. Picture: Wikicommons.

Swiss researchers said on Monday they had calculated the mathematical constant pi to a new world-record level of exactitude, hitting 62.8 trillion figures using a supercomputer.

“The calculation took 108 days and nine hours” using a supercomputer, the Graubünden University of Applied Sciences said in a statement.

Its efforts were “almost twice as fast as the record Google set using its cloud in 2019, and 3.5 times as fast as the previous world record in 2020”, according to the university’s Centre for Data Analytics, Visualisation and Simulation.

Researchers are waiting for the Guinness Book of Records to certify their feat, until then revealing only the final ten digits they calculated for pi: 7817924264.

The previous world-record pi calculation had achieved 50 trillion figures. Pi represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, with an infinite number of digits following the decimal point.

Researchers nevertheless continue to push calculations for the constant — whose first 10 figures are 3.141592653 — ever further using powerful computers.

The Swiss team said that the experience they built up calculating pi could be applied in other areas like “RNA analysis, simulations of fluid dynamics and textual analysis”.

Not only was the task labour intensive, but it called upon the best computing technology on offer – with more than 300 terabytes of RAM required to calculate the new more exact incarnation of pi.

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