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Is thinking contagious?

A recent study looked at brain tissue from 10 people, and in all the samples scientists found bacterial RNA, reports Kevin Hartnett in The Boston Globe. The researchers "speculate that all of us are likely to be carrying around bacteria in our brains. This study is the first of its kind, and if the results are confirmed, researchers will have a number of provocative questions on their hands: Why are these brain bacteria not harmful? … And most important of all, what exactly are the bacteria doing in our brains? We consider our thoughts to be the ground zero of our identities, but perhaps even the act of thinking is a team effort."

Muggers are picking locks

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"Jack Maseko was recently mugged by three men in South Africa – they wanted nothing but his mobile phone and the dreadlocks he had spent three years patiently cultivating," reports BBC News. " 'They had a knife and cut off my hair with scissors. I still feel pain when I think about that night,' the 28-year-old Zimbabwean [said]. 'I used to see people selling dreadlocks on the streets and didn't know where it came from,' he adds, still battling to believe what happened to him as he was walking home late at night in Johannesburg." Dreadlocks can take several years to grow, but many people do not want to wait and it is this need for instant long hair that is pushing the demand for ready locks, hairstylists told the BBC.

Happy to be a chicken sitter

An Oregon woman advertising her "chicken sitting" services says she has received more than 20 callbacks from her flyers, reports United Press International. Linda Walker of Portland said she began her chicken-sitting enterprise about four months ago when a friend employed her to take care of her 200 chickens while the friend was away on her honeymoon. "I said wow, there's a lot of animals here!" Ms. Walker said. "It was like training by fire, you figure it out." She said she was prepared by her time working at a feed store that sold chicks and ducklings. "It's been a really great experience for me," Ms. Walker said. "I had to be open to it, and I realized I really enjoyed them. They're beautiful and really funny and better than TV. They're fun to watch. And they have great eggs!"

The east is sooty

"An estimated 3.2 million people died prematurely in 2010 because of the poisonous effects of outdoor air pollution, according to the findings of an exhaustive study of global causes of death published in December in the Lancet," says "Two-thirds of those killed by air pollution lived in Asia, where air quality continues to worsen. … To Americans, Asia's air pollution woes may seem a world away. But it is a small world. Pollution travels east along jet streams from Asia to the North American West Coast. Research indicates that nearly one-third of the soot in the San Francisco Bay Area blew over from Asia."

Longest U.S. commutes

"Are you a mega-commuter?" asks U.S. National Public Radio. "That's a term used by the U.S. Census Bureau to describe people who commute at least 90 minutes and [80 kilometres] to work. Nearly 600,000 Americans spend that much time in vehicles, carpool lanes, trains and buses each day, according to the bureau."

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Thought du jour

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

John Quincy Adams, U.S. president (1767-1848)

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