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.


Kepler's Genius: Letting Nature Have The Last Word

Feb 13, 2013

Of all the patriarchs of science, Johannes Kepler is the least known. We often talk of Isaac Newton and his law of universal gravity (and laws of motion, and the calculus, and laws of optics), of Galileo's impetuosity and his telescopic discoveries (and law of free fall and pendular motion), and of Copernicus, the man who put the sun in the center of the cosmos. But Kepler? Sounds familiar; but what was it again?

We need to do better. Kepler is, hands down, one of the most fascinating characters in the history of science. Of course, most of the readers of 13.7 know this already; they know Kepler discovered the three laws of planetary motion, the first mathematical laws of astronomy: that planets orbit the sun in elliptical orbits; that the imaginary line connecting sun to planet sweeps equal areas in equal times; and that the square of the planet's orbital period equals the cube of its average distance to the sun. (These laws apply to any planet orbiting a star.)

I know, sounds kind of boring. But, as with much in life, relevance depends on context. Kepler was the link between the old and the new, a visionary who lived to show that the order we see in the cosmos was the handiwork of a divine mind, well-versed in geometry. To Kepler, faithful to what the Pythagoreans preached two millennia before him, only math could unveil the mystery of creation. The relationship between man and cosmos obeyed the same resonances as the planetary orbits, an expression of the harmony of the spheres.

If his spirituality may seem innocent to us today, we must recall that his dreams of cosmic harmony inspired his work throughout his life. They were the fire that breathed life into his breakthrough scientific discoveries. Kepler found the ellipse not because he looked for it but because it was the only curve that fit the data collected over decades of meticulous observation by the Dane Tycho Brahe. In this, Kepler showed his modernity: if a theory is in conflict with data, change the theory. This was not as obvious in 1609 as it may (or should) be now. The circle, after millennia of prominence in the skies, gave way to the imperfect ellipse.

Nature, not mind, had the last word.

Even if his search for a cosmic harmony, his mysterium cosmographicum, was more a holy grail than science, it represented one of the noblest aspirations of the human spirit, to transcend its mortal chains in search of eternal knowledge.

Today, we can identify similar trends in the search for unification in physics, also inspired by dreams of a universal harmony, albeit one based on the vibrations of fundamental strings as opposed to planetary orbits. From Kepler, we learn that we must dream. But we also learn that such dreams are only useful if, when we wake up, they help us make better sense of the observed world.

You can keep up with more of what Marcelo is thinking on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser

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