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Poor people have more trouble quitting smoking

For the poor, quitting is harder

"When a smoker decides to quit, the task is never easy," says Psych Central. "New research finds the task is doubly hard if you are poor and uneducated. Researchers from The City College of New York followed smokers from different socioeconomic backgrounds after they had completed a statewide smoking cessation program in Arkansas. After a program of cognitive-behavioural therapy, either with or without nicotine patches, underprivileged and those from higher social economic backgrounds were able to quit at about the same rate. However, as time progressed, a significant number of the underprivileged returned to smoking. Those with the fewest social and financial resources had the hardest time staving off cravings over the long run."

What colour's your plate?

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"One reason Americans have such a huge weight problem? Our dishware," says Scientific American. "When faced with a bigger plate, people are inclined to heap on – and consume – more food. And plate sizes, like waistlines, have expanded. But what about colour? If plate area can change serving size, could we also trick ourselves into eating less by changing the colour of those dishes? Cornell eating behaviour expert Brian Wansink enlisted 60 unsuspecting adults to find out. Half of those attending a buffet lunch were assigned to a line with only white Alfredo sauce-coated pasta and the other half were ushered to the line with only red marinara-sauce pasta. Folks in each line were randomly given a red or white plate. Those with plates that matched the colour of their food helped themselves to much more than those who had plates of another colour. The findings are in the Journal of Consumer Research."

Best time for bright ideas

"Are you struggling with a problem that requires a creative solution? If so, your impulse might be to attack it during that time of the day when you feel fresh, rested and alert," writes Tom Jacobs of "New research suggests that would be precisely the wrong approach. Participants in an experiment were more likely to solve 'insight problems' – mind-stretchers that require an 'aha moment' to crack – when quizzed during a time period when they weren't at their peak. 'Morning people' scored higher in the late afternoon, while 'evening people' did better in the a.m." The study is published in the journal Thinking and Reasoning.

Do dolphins talk in their sleep?

"A group of five captive dolphins in France have been recorded making whale-like noises late at night – despite the fact that they have only heard whale sounds as recordings during their daytime dolphin shows," reports "If the sounds are confirmed to be mimicking whales, it would be the first example of dolphins 'saving up' a sound to practise later. And since the whale sounds are only uttered at night, it's possible the whale sounds are a dolphin version of sleep-talking."

Problems for driverless cars

"Even as Google tests its small fleet of self-driving cars on California highways, legal scholars and government officials are warning that society has only begun wrestling with the changes that would be required in a system created a century ago to meet the challenge of horseless carriages," says The New York Times. "What happens if a police car wants to pull one of these vehicles over? When it stops at a four-way intersection, would it be too polite to take its turn ahead of aggressive human drivers (or equally polite robots)? What sort of insurance would it need?"

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YouTube now a colossus

"People who complain about some of the racier content on YouTube are often told that the sheer rate at which that content is uploaded makes it impossible to moderate," says the New Scientist. "That claim would seem to be more than borne out by the figures released by Google, YouTube's owner … The search giant's figures show that one hour of video is now being uploaded to YouTube every single second of the day. … More amazing still, perhaps, is that YouTube's footage is now getting four billion views per day – equivalent to more than half the people on Earth diving in to see crazy kittens, people telling their parents they are going to be grandparents and lightning hitting aircraft."

Thought du jour

"It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise."

Goethe (1749-1832)

German polymath

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