The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


Can We Ever Explain Human Tragedy?

Mar 4, 2013
Originally published on March 5, 2013 1:43 pm

Sinkholes can occur when porous limestone or other soluble bedrock dissolves in water, creating underground caverns that collapse.

Last Thursday evening, a man was in the bedroom of his home in Seffner, Florida.

These are typical narratives — one about scientific facts, the other about everyday life. We accept each narrative as neither shocking nor mysterious. Water and rock interact in particular ways. People go about their daily lives. This is familiar.

But when these two narratives tragically intersect, the result can be shocking and unsettling. At about 11 p.m. last Thursday evening, a sinkhole developed under one man's bedroom, devouring both him and most of the room's contents. He is now presumed dead.

When natural events generate tragic consequences, we try to make sense of them; we ask "why?"

But the "why?" we're after is elusive. We can offer a perfectly reasonable explanation for why sinkholes occur in general, and — with enough information — for why they do so in particular cases. We can offer a perfectly reasonable explanation for why a particular man was in his bedroom around 11 p.m. one Thursday evening. But explaining these two facts doesn't provide a satisfying explanation for why a sinkhole swallowed that particular man.

Can we ever provide a satisfying explanation for human tragedy?

In 1937, the anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard published a book on the Azande, a group he studied near the Sudan-Zaire border. He described how the Azande explain unfortunate events. In the passage quoted below, Evans-Pritchard considered how the Azande would see the collapse of a granary on a group of people:

We say that the granary collapsed because its supports were eaten away by termites. That is the cause that explains the collapse of the granary. We also say that people were sitting under it at the time because it was in the heat of the day and they thought that it would be a comfortable place to talk and work. This is the cause of people being under the granary at the time it collapsed. To our minds the only relationship between these two independently caused facts is their coincidence in time and space. We have no explanation of why the two chains of causation intersected at a certain time and in a certain place, for there is no interdependence between them.

Zande philosophy can supply the missing link. The Zande knows that the supports were undermined by termites and that people were sitting beneath the granary in order to escape the heat and glare of the sun. But he knows besides why these two events occurred at a precisely similar moment in time and space. It was due to the action of witchcraft.

I'm not about to propose that witchcraft can explain why a Florida man was tragically swallowed by a sinkhole last week. But I find Evans-Pritchard's example compelling.

There's something deeply unsatisfying in a strict recounting of what happened, the story of limestone and water, of a man retiring to his bedroom for the evening. We want something more.

But is there more to be had? If so, can science provide it?

You can keep up with more of what Tania Lombrozo is thinking on Twitter: @TaniaLombrozo

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit