On-screen cigarettes tempt audiences
Dartmouth Medicine, Summer issue

Smokers who are trying to quit better not watch the 2003 Nicolas Cage movie “Matchstick Men.” Researchers at Dartmouth College found that just watching actors smoke on-screen activates the regions of a smoker’s brain associated with both the reward system and the physical act of smoking. “It’s like sharing a cigarette with the actor,” says researcher Todd Heatherton in an article in Dartmouth Medicine magazine about the study. Heatherton chose “Matchstick Men” because it has a lot of smoking in it but not a lot of other potentially confounding actions, such as violence. His study, which included 17 smokers and 17 nonsmokers, was published in the Journal of Neuroscience in January.

Huge creatures of the sea
“Among Giants: A Life With Whales” (University of Chicago Press, $40)

A mother humpback whale and her young traveling in close formation in Maui. Three researchers in a raft eclipsed by an enormous whale holding its tail into the wind. Those are two of the extraordinary photos in “Among Giants” by Charles “Flip” Nicklin, the lead whale photographer for the National Geographic Society. In the text, Nicklin recounts his long career, starting with the first picture he ever sold — of a grouper. It ran in a kids’ magazine, and he was paid $10. As an adult, Nicklin had a stint in Washington in the mid-1990s when he was working on a book for National Geographic. “Living in D.C.,” he writes, “was a big change, and I started out with an inferiority complex: I was this beach guy with no college degree who was suddenly wearing a suit every day and working with idea people.”