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.

Pages

Flying Plates Learn To Catch Flying Poles In Switzerland

Feb 26, 2013

Imagine a plate, like a dinner plate, hovering mid-air. The technical name for this gizmo is a quadrocopter. But what it's about to do is something you might see at the circus. So in comes the man with the top hat, (me) saying "Laaadies and Gentlemen ... Hold on to your seats, Prepare to be astonished ..." Then this happens:

Let's take a pole, basically a three foot stick, and fling it at the plate.

What are the chances that we could get the plate to zoom under the pole, catch it mid-air, (remember, it's got no arms, it's a plate!) and balance it upright? Oh, and the plate isn't being guided by a person. It's got to do this itself. It has to learn this, through trial and error.

That would be one very, very, very talented plate.

And now before your very eyes, I'm going to show you one, designed by a grad student working in Switzerland, Dario Brescianini. He studies artificial intelligence at ETH Zurich's Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, where they design clever robots. In recent years, the students there have been building these simple, dinner-plate thingies that fly. Plates with propellers.

But First, Ball-Tossing

Last year some students in Zurich taught these plates to toss a rubber ball, which was a little surprising. Then they got the plates to "catch" the ball and ricochet it back and forth; they call this mid-air "juggling." I'd call it "pingpong," but whatever you call it, it was very impressive, as you can see here ...

And then along comes Dario.

As I said, he tossed poles (with shock absorbers — a balloon filled with flour at one end) at his robots, hoping the plates could catch, balance, then juggle these flying sticks. Impossible? No. Dario, quoted on a AI site called Robohub, said he found the problem "interesting" ...

... because it combined various areas of current research and many complex questions had to be answered: How can the pole be launched off the quadrocopter? Where should it be caught and — more importantly — when? What happens at impact? The biggest challenge to get the system running was the catching part.

And Now, Pole Tossing

I'll say. But, as you're about to see, he did it. Dario gave the machine physics lessons, but it took trial and error for the robots to figure out the timing. I find this totally amazing.

One more thing — Some of you are going to say this was Photoshopped, or it's all a trick. I don't think so. Dario worked with fellow grad student Markus Hehn and Professor Raffaello D'Andrea, artificial intelligence scholars with impressive resumes. The school is well-known. If this video is a slick prank, they would have chosen a slicker narrator. Dario (if that is Dario) reads his copy like an embarrassed announcer at a funeral. He will never get a job in broadcasting, but that's no problem, because he's aces with flying poles.

Watch his plates learn to:

1. throw
2. catch
3. juggle

I can't imagine what's next.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.