SHARE
COPY LINK

SCIENCE

Human-Neanderthal mating was rare: study

Scientists have shown that modern humans have some traces of genes from Neanderthals, but a study out on Monday suggests that any breeding between the two was most likely a rare event.

Human-Neanderthal mating was rare: study
State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

The new computational model, based on DNA samples from modern humans in France and China, shows successful coupling happened at a rate of less than two percent.  

The research suggests that either inter-species sex was very taboo, or that the hybrid offspring had trouble surviving, according to the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

There may have been “extremely strong barriers to gene flow between the two species because of a very low fitness of human-Neanderthal hybrids, a very strong avoidance of interspecific mating, or a combination,” said the study by researchers at the University of Geneva and the University of Berne in Switzerland.  

Between two and four percent of the human genome can be linked to the long-extinct Neanderthals and their cavemen relatives.  

The squat, low-browed Neanderthals lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East for up to 300,000 years but all evidence of them disappears some 40,000 years ago, their last known refuge being Gibraltar.  

Why they died out is a matter of some debate, because they co-existed alongside modern man.  

A study by French researchers published in the journal Science last month suggested that modern humans gleaned a competitive immune advantage from their liaisons with cavemen.  

However, scientists still have no evidence to suggest the nature of those sexual encounters, whether violent or consensual.  

Previous studies have also suggested that Neanderthals were crowded out by modern humans, and that the death blow to their species may have been accelerated by a spate of harsh, wintry weather.

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.

SHOW COMMENTS