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.


Neil Tyson Pounds The Table, Demanding A Future, Now!

Mar 6, 2013

Neil deGrasse Tyson is stepping up his game, roaring, cajoling, stomping his big, considerable, eloquent self to say we have got to, got to, GOT TO, step off this planet and go places, back to the moon, on to Mars, that we can't afford not to, that if we don't, if we don't support a manned space program, we are robbing ourselves, we are stepping on "the foundations of tomorrow's economies," without which, "we might as well slide back to the cave, because that's where we're headed now, broke!"

He's serious. Crazy (as usual), passionate (always), smart (no doubt). Just listen to him in this montage, taken from his speeches, TV appearances, assembled by Evan Shurr, apparently to support more funding for NASA.

I remember those days, when you could grow up in the "Skyview" apartments (as Neil did in the Bronx) and dream of being up there with Glenn and Aldrin and Armstrong, feel like you were living in an explorer's age, that you could ride with your heroes and cheer from the bleachers (your living room in front of the TV) as your nation tumbled into space. It was amazing. And like Neil, I want those days back.

The Question

But here's my question: Do we need NASA (or the Chinese, Russian, Japanese, European, Indian space agencies) to get there anymore? Neil seems to think we do. NASA's greatest, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, went to Congress early in the Obama Administration to say that the new president is wrong to support (and direct NASA to support) private commercial efforts. Business folks won't do it safely, said Cernan. But businesses are doing it anyway. Just last week a commercially-built rocket (from Elon Musk's California company, SpaceX) traveled to the space station, docked, and delivered cargo — so NASA no longer has to rely on Russian rockets to make deliveries. It was a thrilling, entrepreneurial, bootstrap performance (with, yes, a $1.6 billion contract from NASA), but where were the cheers?


The geeks cheered. But the rest of us — not so much. OK, the ship was delivering clothes, food and equipment. There was no pilot, no crew, nothing to see, really, nobody up there to cheer for. And if SpaceX gets its way, it will soon become a tourist bus, carrying thousands, then tens of thousands of paying customers into orbit, so what they'd like to do is make the extraordinary a little more ordinary for average Earthlings.

The Challenge

But that's not my question for Neil. My question is: Who's going to lead us back to the Extraordinary? Back to uncharted dangerous, expensive places we've never been, places we dream of? Should that be the President, the Congress, should it be all of us pledging to do it together, or should it be self-nominated, can-do, sometimes obnoxious business people who can inspire a team, who live for the gamble, who think they can do it better?

I don't know. I'm not sure how Neil feels. Clearly he thinks we should be exploring. Clearly he thinks America should lead. But which America? All of us or some of us? That, I think, is going to become a very crucial question.

For a taste of the entrepreneurial, CBS correspondent Scott Pelley and "60 Minutes" just rebroadcast a profile of Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX. It's a gentle look at this man who, after making money on the Internet, formed an electric car company, a solar energy company, and now builds rocket ships to carry people and cargo into space. Scott's profile doesn't dwell on Elon's spats, his rough side, but there's a scene where Scott asks Elon about Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, asks him what he thinks about their critique of private space exploration, and Elon goes very quiet. He tries to speak, stops, swallows. Pelley says, those guys are your heroes, right? And Elon says they are. So how do you feel when "they cast stones in your direction?" "It's ... " Elon's eyes get a little moist, and then, under his breath, he says one word ... "difficult." I watched this, and I thought, hmmm, apparently, even a hard-driving entrepreneur likes the thrill of a national effort, the blessing of a national hero, the sound of "we" instead of "me."

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