Are Some People Born Smokers?

Scientists have identified a brain pathway which, when defective, leads to an uncontrollable desire to smoke. The discovery may lead to new anti-smoking treatments.

A discovery that explains why some people cannot give up tobacco may lead to new anti-smoking treatments. Scientists have identified a brain pathway which, when defective, leads to an uncontrollable desire to smoke. It involves a component, or "subunit", of a receptor protein sensitive to nicotine. Normally, the pathway dampens down the urge to consume more nicotine when levels of the drug reach a critical level. But in some people the mechanism is faulty. The scientists, whose work is reported in the journal Nature, carried out tests on animals with a genetic mutation that leaves them without the receptor sub-unit.

Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

Videos
  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
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Juice is terrible for children. Why do we keep giving it to them?

A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.

Pixabay user Stocksnap
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Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you. 

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Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
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