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Snooki’s novel an (extended) NYTimes best-seller
Well, given the millions of people who watch “Jersey Shore,” you’d assume one or two of them would pick up Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s book, right?
The pickle-loving reality star behind the novel “A Shore Thing” tweeted the news late Wednesday that her fiction debut was officially a best-seller.
“OMG I’m a New York Times Best Selling Author!!! Thank you so much to my fans, family and everyone who made this possible! LOVE YOU ALL !!”
Smokers: Seeing someone light up is brain trigger
A big temptation for smokers is watching others smoke. Now, scientists are getting a deeper understanding of what goes on in the brain during those kinds of cravings.
A new study in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that watching people in a movie smoke triggers the same brain activity involved in planning to actually smoke a cigarette.
“This is one potential cue out there that can influence whether or not you’ll engage in smoking,” said Dylan Wagner, lead study author and researcher at Dartmouth College.
Researchers showed clips of the film “Matchstick Men” in which characters smoked during several scenes. Participants were 17 smokers and 17 nonsmokers, which is a relatively small group of subjects, but significant for a brain scanning study.
They looked at brain activity through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see which areas would respond most to watching smoking on the screen.
Like previous experiments, this one found a connection to the brain’s reward system. But this study also adds that a brain region involved in planning, observing, and carrying out hand-based actions also seems to play a role, Wagner said.
A major limitation of the study is that researchers did not follow participants out of the laboratory to see whether they actually lit up after viewing the film clips.
The next step in this research is to try to link the findings to whether watching films with smoking will actually increase a person’s frequency of smoking.
“Smokers should be informed that these are potential influences that might lead to increased cravings,” Wagner said.
Wal-Mart Shifts Strategy to Promote Healthy Foods
WASHINGTON — Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, will announce a five-year plan on Thursday to make thousands of its packaged foods lower in unhealthy salts, fats and sugars, and to drop prices on fruits and vegetables.
The initiative came out of discussions the company has been having with Michelle Obama, the first lady, who will attend the announcement in Washington and has made healthy eating and reducing childhood obesity the centerpiece of her agenda.
The Love Affair With the Fireplace Cools
Hard as it may be to believe, the fireplace — long considered a trophy, particularly in a city like New York — is acquiring a social stigma. Among those who aspire to be environmentally responsible, it is joining the ranks of bottled water and big houses.
“The smoke from a fire smells very nice,” said Diane Bailey, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. “But it can cause a lot of harm.” The tiny particles, she said, “can cause inflammation and illness, and can cross into the bloodstream, triggering heart attacks” as well as worsening other conditions.
Not surprisingly, the green community has been sounding the alarm for some time. For the last several years, TheDailyGreen.com, an online magazine, has advocated replacing all wood-burning fireplaces with electric ones; an article published in September by Shireen Qudosi, entitled “Breathe Easier With a Cleaner Fireplace,” argued that there is no such thing as an environmentally responsible fire: “Switching out one type of wood for another is still use of a natural resource that otherwise could have been spared,” Ms. Qudosi wrote. And last fall, an article on the Web site GreenBlizzard.com, “Cozy Winter Fires — Carbon Impact,” called wood-burning fires “a direct pollutant to you, your family and your community.”
Organizations like the American Lung Association are issuing warnings as well: the group recommends that consumers avoid wood fires altogether, citing research that names wood stoves and fireplaces as major contributors to particulate-matter air pollution in much of the United States.
To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test
Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.
The research, published online Thursday in the journal Science, found that students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods.
One of those methods — repeatedly studying the material — is familiar to legions of students who cram before exams. The other — having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning — is prized by many teachers because it forces students to make connections among facts.
These other methods not only are popular, the researchers reported; they also seem to give students the illusion that they know material better than they do.
In the experiments, the students were asked to predict how much they would remember a week after using one of the methods to learn the material. Those who took the test after reading the passage predicted they would remember less than the other students predicted — but the results were just the opposite.
Jesse James, Kat Von D are engaged!
After recently blowing up the Twitterverse with public declarations of their love, Jesse James and Kat Von D are taking their relationship to the next level.
James and Von D, who began dating last summer after the very public dissolution of James’s marriage to Sandra Bullock, are engaged, according to People.
Malaria not spread by casual contact
Mosquitos, those pesky insects that feed on human blood, are more than just a summertime nuisance. They are also the source of a very serious public health problem–malaria. Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by a parasite that infects the mosquito. The infected mosquito transmits the parasite to humans through a bite.
George Clooney contracted malaria on a recent visit to Sudan, the actor told CNN’s Piers Morgan on Thursday.
The disease is very common worldwide, but is found most often in tropical and subtropical countries. Here in the United States, about 1,500 cases of malaria are reported each year. The vast majority of these cases are in travelers and immigrants returning from countries where malaria is endemic like sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America and South Asia. Malaria kills about 1 million people a year worldwide, 89% of those are in Africa.
If you are going to an area where malaria is present, antimalarial medication should be taken early. The disease can be cured with with prescription drugs.