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A risk of living alone?

"It's long been known that elderly people are more prone to depression and other mental-health problems if they live on their own," says "New research suggests the same pattern may also be found in younger, working-age adults. In a study of nearly 3,500 men and women ages 30 to 65, researchers in Finland found that people who lived alone were more likely than their peers to receive a prescription for antidepressant drugs. One quarter of people living alone filled an antidepressant prescription during the seven-year study, compared to just 16 per cent who lived with spouses, family or roommates."

Girls disguised as boys

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"When Azita Rafhat, a former member of the Afghan parliament, gets her daughters ready for school, she dresses one of the girls differently," BBC News reports. "Three of her daughters are clothed in white garments and their heads covered with white scarves, but a fourth girl, Mehrnoush, is dressed in a suit and tie. When they get outside, Mehrnoush is no longer a girl but a boy named Mehran. Azita Rafhat didn't have a son, and to fill the gap and avoid people's taunts for not having a son, she opted for this radical decision. It was very simple, thanks to a haircut and some boyish clothes. There is even a name for this tradition in Afghanistan – Bacha Posh, or disguising girls as boys. 'When you have a good position in Afghanistan and are well off, people look at you differently. They say your life becomes complete only if you have a son,' she says."

Electronic skin

"Electronic skin patches that monitor a patient's health while at home are being developed by scientists," The Telegraph reports. "American researchers say the tiny patches, with tattoo-like sensors that wirelessly diagnose and treat health problems, can act as a person's own internal doctor. The 'electronic skin' patches, about as thick as a human hair, check a patient's vital signs and transmit the data to a computer or mobile phone. Scientists behind the project say they could be used by healthy people to detect the early signs of illness. The first patches, aimed at athletes, are expected to be available for commercial sale later this year."

Plastic that heals itself

"A skin-like plastic that 'bleeds' when cut or scratched and then heals has been developed by scientists," says The Independent. "The material could provide self-healing surfaces for a multitude of products ranging from mobile phones and laptops to cars, say researchers. When cut, the plastic turns from clear to red along the line of the damage, mimicking what happens to skin. It reacts to ordinary light, or changes in temperature or acidity, by mending broken molecular 'bridges' to heal itself. U.S. scientists told how they created the material at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting in San Diego."

Right place, wrong party

"By all accounts," reports The Quad-City (Iowa) Times, "it was an honest mistake, political party convention attendees said. Republican congressional candidate Dan Dolan of Muscatine arrived early at the Monroe County Courthouse for the Republican convention being held Saturday [March 10]in Albia, Iowa. Unfortunately, the county Democrats were holding their convention in the same building, and Mr. Dolan spoke to the wrong group of people. 'Nobody asked enough questions before he started speaking,' Monroe County Supervisor Denny Ryan said. 'It finally got to the point in the speech where one of the people said, Are you sure you're at the right convention?' " The Republican convention was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., the Democratic convention at 11 a.m.

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Stella outdoes Stanley

"Each year," says National Public Radio, "the annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival ends with a bevy of wannabe Stanleys bellowing to love-torn Stellas positioned on a balcony in Jackson Square – and the roles are reversed when a woman is doing the shouting. This year, Nicole Martin took first place with her yelling 'Stanley!' This annual riff on characters from the play and movie A Streetcar Named Desire also brought Bryan Buckles a second-place award." Ms. Martin is a legal assistant and member of a book club; Mr. Buckles builds houses and plays a lot of golf.

Ever see a scientist up close?

"If you ask middle-school students what a scientist looks like, they'll tell you he's an old white guy with crazy hair, glasses and a lab coat," Christie Wilcox writes for Scientific American. "More often than not, he's depicted inside and playing with chemicals. This stereotype is pervasive – and completely, totally wrong. All of this is why I completely and totally love the new Tumblr [site]This Is What A Scientist Looks Like. … Scientists from all kinds of fields are asked to submit photos of themselves and write a brief bit about who they are. … The pics express personality, intelligence and even a little humour."

Thought du jour

"Reason is the shepherd trying to corral life's vast flock of wild irrationalities."

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- Paul Eldridge (1888-1982), U.S. writer and teacher

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