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.

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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.


How Mountain Grass Makes The Cheese Stand Alone

Jan 28, 2013

Herding cattle up the side of a mountain might seem like a lot of extra work, but for thousands of years, people have hauled their cows into the Alps to graze during the summer months. Why? It's all about great-tasting cheese.

In places like Italy, some traditional cheeses, like bra d'alpeggio or Formai de Mut dell'Alta Valle Brembana, can only be made with milk from mountainside-munching cows.

But in Italy, at least, the practice may be dying out. "Young people don't want to stay in the mountain because there are poor opportunities for work," so they often move to the city, says food chemist Giovanna Contarini of the Centro di Ricerca per le Produzioni Foraggere e Lattiero-Casearie in Lodi, Italy. If there's no one left in the mountains to raise the cows and make the cheese, she says, "we risk losing an important product."

Contarini and her colleagues have been working to save these mountain dairy products. And fans of the cheeses say there's more than just nostalgia involved. It's not easy to define the flavor, Contarini says, but aficionados insist the cheeses do taste better.

There's also evidence that mountain cheese might even be a little healthier, containing, for example, more omega-3 fatty acids than cheese made from the milk of cattle raised on the plains.

The differences are definitely subtle, but researchers have figured out how to tease apart some of them. Recently, Contarini and her colleagues in Lodi even showed how to distinguish between cheeses made from cows pastured on two different sides of a single mountain. Her study appears online in the latest Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Where cows live changes what they eat — and that difference is detectable in the cheese made from their milk, says Contarini.

"In the mountain areas, the cows are free to pasture," she says. They mostly eat a mix of fresh grasses and other vegetation. Cattle raised at lower elevations in Italy, in contrast, are kept in farms and eat a prepared feed that contains dried grasses and some fat and vitamins. "Consequently, the rumen digestion is different," she says.

The rumen is the first chamber in a cow's stomach, and it's full of microbes. What a cow eats helps determine what microbes rumble in its rumen, and those differences play out in the chemical composition of its milk. "So some constituents of milk, particularly the fat and the lipid soluble compounds, are different," Contarini says.

Milk from mountain-raised cows also contains chemical compounds called terpenes, which come from little flowers growing among the grass. "In the plains cows, you don't find any terpenes," she says. Scientists aren't sure how or if terpenes affect cheese flavor, but they do consider them a marker of mountain cheese.

In her recent experiment, Contarini's group took milk from cows living on two sides of a mountain in northern Italy. Both pastures were mostly covered in fescue and bent grass, but they received different amounts of sunshine, and from different directions. One pasture also had a bit more yarrow growing in it than the other.

Milk from cows raised in each pasture was used to make a couple dozen wheels of local Asiago cheese. When the scientists analyzed the cheeses, they found they differed, just slightly, in the amounts of some hydrocarbons and trans fatty acids.

That wasn't enough to affect flavor, but it helps to validate methods that may one day be used to authenticate cheese made from mountain-raised cows, Contarini says. And while that could be helpful for consumers looking for the real thing, it could also help to show that there is real added value in these local, artisan cheeses, she says, and worth the effort of driving herds of cattle up into the Alps.

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