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.

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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.


House Cat-Odyssey Highlights The Mysteries Of Animal Migration

Jan 24, 2013
Originally published on January 24, 2013 5:50 pm

Early in November, a tortoiseshell cat named Holly jumped out of her human family's RV in Daytona Beach, Florida, and ran off. After a fruitless search, the husband and wife returned home to West Palm Beach without their cat.

Holly showed up back in West Palm Beach, only a mile from her house, on New Year's Eve. Because she had been micro-chipped, the family, two surprised and grateful humans and one bedraggled cat, were readily reunited.

But how did Holly find her way home across those 200 miles? As The New York Times reported on Sunday, the worn condition of Holly's feet and claws show that she walked a considerable distance. This fact, together with Holly's having lost nearly half her body weight, rules out the idea that she'd been a passenger in someone's car. With startling accuracy, Holly covered at least most of the mileage by padding along day-after-day through habitat wholly unknown to her. As the Times article makes clear, experienced animal-behavior scientists like John Bradshaw and Marc Bekoff have no explanation for how she did it.

Holly's story caught my eye not only because I'm cat-besotted (and a homeless-cat rescuer), but also because animal navigation is a thriving area of scientific research. Animals — from birds to whales — cross impressive distances during seasonal migrations. Curlews, for instance, fly 6,000 miles non-stop en route from the South Pacific to Alaska.

Just three days ago, I observed wild humpback whales off Virginia Beach as they migrated from the far north (possibly Greenland) to the Caribbean. Mark Jennings from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center explained to me that those of us on the tour boat were watching juvenile and young adults who were "slow migrators," whales following at a somewhat leisurely pace behind the pregnant females and fully adult breeders who had already gone south at speed. The boat captain was respectful in not getting too close to the whales. Even so, at one point I could hear as well as see two of them, side by side, as they spouted. It was a joyous feeling to share that one fleeting moment with them, during their journey.

Ecologist James L. Gould and science writer Carol Grant Gould write that, in navigating like this, many animals "are performing feats far beyond anything humans can manage without specialized instruments, equipment, and training." In their book published last year, Nature's Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation, Gould and Gould show that the best data on animal, including insect and bird, navigation come from experimentation rather than observation alone.

In my review of the book for the TLS, I noted some of my favorite experiments described by the Goulds:

A hive of bees trained to feed at a certain hour is transported from Paris to New York; the bees fly to feed at five hours earlier than local time, but recover from this jet lag within a week by shifting to true solar time day by day. Block ants' view of the sun and offer them a mirror-image reflection from a different direction, and they turn around in their tracks. Require pigeons to carry magnets on their backs on cloudy days, and they get lost. Intercept birds in the process of migrating, and you find that the juvenile and adult coping strategies are different, which plays into an experience-dependent notion of bird navigation.

As that last sentence hints, Gould and Gould in their review find that some animals navigate via instinct, and others through accumulated experience and learning. Humpback whales are good candidates for some learning in their migratory behaviors (see Table 3, page 13 here), which some recent research also suggests may involve making use of star maps as well as the sun's position and Earth's magnetism.

Where does Holly the housecat fit into this picture? She's not saying, and no scientist plans to release cats 200 miles from home under different experimental conditions in order to assess how they navigate.

For now, this feline leaves us with unanswered questions.

You can keep up with more of what Barbara is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape

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