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.


My Yeast Let Me Down: A Love Song

Jan 28, 2013
Originally published on January 28, 2013 11:33 am

In a moment, there's going to be singing. It will be a love song, sung by Nathaniel, a sad-eyed, blue-gloved scientist who gave his heart to an organism, but then did her wrong. (Or maybe she did him wrong. These things get complicated.)

Like every lost love, this one has a back story. I don't know Berkeley biologist Nathaniel Krefman, but I can guess what happened. It happens all the time.

Imagining The Young Nathaniel ...

You fall in love with science, there's a professor who takes you on, leads you to a good graduate program, you study hard, spend your 20s earning embarrassingly little money working crazy hours, not minding that much, you get your Ph.D., you're trained, you're primed and suddenly you're in a job market where there's one academic opening for every five new Ph.D.s — and you're scared, your colleagues start to bail, slip off to med school, business school, and that dream you had — being a post-doc in a good lab, with a bench, and a little freedom? That's next to impossible — but, but, but, you hang on, and hooray! You get a starter job, get an idea, write it down, send it off to some National Institute in Washington, or to a Foundation, and double-hooray! They fund you, and now, finally, you've got a little money, a little time ... and then this happens ...

Your experiment fails.

Bad, Bad Yeast

The thing you thought would happen doesn't. Maybe it's something stupid, like your yeast won't grow, and you need them to run your trials. You want to try again, with a different critter, but that means another National Institutes of Health grant and Washington says, ... well ... if you were working on cancer, or STDs, or flu, a disease everybody's heard of, then maybe we'd give you more money ... but you're not.

You're just chasing a cool, fascinating idea. And it seems you chose the wrong yeast to do it with. That's when you walk into your lab, pack up your test tubes, your flasks, your dishes, your notes, and you sing this sad, sad song ...

Thanks to Nathaniel Krefman, Lydia The, Haomiao Huang at Berkeley for the video. This is our second homage to musicians Gotye and Kimbra; a few months ago we blogged about the cool camouflage designs they included in their video. And thanks to physics grad student and blogger Aatish Bhatia at Rutgers who notices first what I then notice later.

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