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.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.


Raging Against A Universe Past Its Prime

Dec 12, 2012

It's painful to say this, but our universe is fading, not that any of us would notice. Looking up at the sky, the stars are not disappearing from sight (in spite of regular apocalyptic predictions rippling through our culture). But the rate at which the cosmos makes new stars has been declining sharply over the past few billion years. The age of splendor, of countless lights born anew in the heavens, is long gone.

In a wide-ranging study published this November in the British journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, an international team of astronomers led by David Sobral from the University of Leiden, used three huge telescopes to measure the rate of star formation at different times, from very far in the past to more recent times.

To do this, and since telescopes can't resolve individual stars in galaxies billions of light-years away, the astronomers focused on particular kinds of radiation emissions that are abundant when stars are born. If galaxies are actively making stars, the emissions intensify accordingly. They sampled the same types of galaxies at four different epochs: at 4.2, 7.0, 9.2 and 10.6 billion years ago. (Recall that our universe is 13.7-billion-years old, the time elapsed since the big bang.)

What they found is discouraging. Equating the rate of star formation to our cosmic GDP, "the cosmic GDP output is now only 3 percent of what it used to be at the peak in star production," said Sobral. "If the measured decline continues, then no more than 5 percent more stars will form over the remaining history of the cosmos, even if we wait forever. The research suggests that we live in a universe dominated by old stars." In other words, 95 percent of the stars that our universe will make in its history have already been made.

Stars started forming only about 300 million years after the big bang. Those first stars were giants, hundreds of times bigger than our sun. Overweight stars live short lives, and these progenitors exploded within millions of years, spreading their guts into interstellar space. These stellar cataclysms spurred the birth of new stars and sprinkled space with heavier chemical elements, including carbon, oxygen, sulfur and others vital for life. As the late cosmologist Edward Harrison said, "people is what happens to hydrogen if you wait long enough." We are, in a very definite sense, children of these stars. And we are lucky to be able to witness our cosmos in its glory. Another 10 billion years from now, the sky would not be as inspiring.

The peak of star formation occurred about 11 to nine billion years ago, when about half of the stars were made. It took five times longer to make the other stars. Now, only five percent are left to be made. The great gravitational engine that compresses hydrogen clouds into energy-churning stars has lost most of its steam.

Unless, of course, the universe reverses its expanding trend and starts recollapsing upon itself due to its own attraction. In this case, matter will be compressed again and much can happen.

Unfortunately, current measurements indicate that the universe will continue to expand, possibly into endless time, picking up speed as it goes. This being the case, as Robert Frost speculated in his poem Fire and Ice, ice will win.

But I take inspiration from another poet, Dylan Thomas, who declared war on decay:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

If only the universe would listen.

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

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.