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Why clapping is contagious Add to ...

Cruelty at work

A new research study finds people who are considered unattractive are more likely to be depreciated and intimidated in the workplace, reports Psych Central. “Brent Scott, PhD, an associate professor of management at Michigan State University, said his findings were disturbing. “Although we like to think we’re professional and mature in the workplace, it can be just like high school in many ways,” he said. “While plenty of research has found that attractive students tend to be more popular in school, the study is [thought to be] the first to link attractiveness to cruelty in the workplace. The results appear in the journal Human Performance.”

How applause works

“The quality of a performance does not drive the amount of applause an audience gives, a study suggests. Instead, scientists have found that clapping is contagious, and the length of an ovation is influenced by how other members of the crowd behave,” reports BBC News. “They say it takes a few people to start clapping for applause to spread through a group, and then just one or two individuals to stop for it to die out.” The Swedish study is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Don’t talk trash

“One thing you learn quickly if you hang around scrap merchants is not to refer to the materials in which they trade as ‘trash’ or ‘garbage’ or ‘junk,’” writes Peter Ford in The Christian Science Monitor. “At a recent convention [in Shanghai] of

the Bureau of International Recycling (essentially the global forum for scrap dealers), I drew some very sharp looks and a reprimand or two before I got the message. Of course, the traders are right. If scrap was indeed trash it would not be worth anything. And scrap is certainly worth something. In fact, according to a recent Bank of America/Merrill Lynch report, the global waste and recycling business is worth $1-trillion (U.S.) a year. And it could be worth double that by 2020.”

C-a-t spells Cap

Carol Gambrel ordered a cake to celebrate her daughter Laura’s graduation from Indiana University, specifying “Congratulations Laura!” to be written in icing and an icing-drawn “cap” on the head of the photograph of Laura that she supplied, reports United Press International. The bakery spelled the words correctly but drew a sitting cat where the cap should be. Although the bakery offered to correct the mistake, the Gambrels said they saw the humour in it, left the cake alone and now their photo of the “cat cake” is a viral Internet sensation.

We make new brain cells

“Nuclear bomb tests carried out during the Cold War have had an unexpected benefit,” says the New Scientist. “A radioactive carbon isotope expelled by the blasts has been used to date the age of adult human brain cells, providing the first definitive evidence that we generate new brain cells throughout our lives.” In mammals, most types of brain cells are created at, or soon after, birth and are never renewed. But studies in monkeys and rodents have shown that new neurons continue to appear in the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and the formulation of new memories. There has been controversy over whether the same is true for humans. By looking at 55 post-mortem brains aged between 19 and 92, Swedish researchers “found that a subset of neurons in an area of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus are indeed created throughout adulthood. In effect, a small population of our brain cells remains permanently young, renewing itself continually … 1,400 new neurons every day.”

Thought du jour

“Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.”

Sam Rayburn, U.S. politician (1882-1961)

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