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.


Scientists Are The New Kings (Or At Least Secretaries) At Energy Department

Mar 4, 2013
Originally published on March 4, 2013 6:18 pm

With President Obama nominating Ernest Moniz to be the nation's next energy secretary, he continued a relatively recent trend of putting scientists atop a part of the federal bureaucracy once overseen by political types.

If confirmed by the Senate, Moniz, an MIT physicist, will follow Nobel laureate Steven Chu, a University of California physicist who served as Obama's first-term energy secretary.

And Chu came after President George W. Bush appointee Samuel Bodman, who was no slacker in the field of science, either. He held a doctorate in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also taught as an associate professor.

All right, it might be a stretch to include Bodman, since by the time Bush named him to the Energy Department post, he had long before traded academia for big gigs in corporate America. Still, he did have that engineering doctorate.

It might seem like a no-brainer to have an individual with a strong science background at the helm of a federal department that oversees a lot of complex science projects, like maintaining the nation's nuclear weapons labs and researching new energy technologies.

But Washington isn't a city that necessarily does no-brainers well.

Which helps explain the heavy dose of political figures — a former senator (under President George W. Bush); a former governor (under President Reagan); a former House member (under President Clinton); a former big-city mayor (also under Clinton) — who dominate a list of previous energy secretaries, a list that also includes lawyers, businessmen and a retired admiral.

Obama has clearly broken away from the pattern by naming two highly regarded scientists to lead a department that in the past has had a reputation for dysfunction. And some might be inclined to give George W. Bush credit for, at the very least, naming a secretary with a STEM doctorate.

Of course, Obama's choices at Energy can be read as something of a rebuke to that same Bush, whose officials were known to question scientific consensus, such as humans contributing to climate change. Obama has repeatedly promised to "restore science to its rightful place."

If it's a trend, it may be too soon to know if it will take hold.

When I asked Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University, how we got from Hazel O'Leary (an energy secretary under President Clinton) and Spencer Abraham (who served under President George W. Bush) to Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz, he told me:

"It's a trend that's well worth replicating elsewhere. ... We do pay attention to it in places like the CDC and other scientifically oriented agencies, but it would be nice if the first thing you asked as a president or as a candidate was, 'Can they do the job, and do they know anything about it?'

"That's actually a good thing. We like politicals. For whatever reason, Energy is breaking out of it. That's terrific. It sets a higher bar, and maybe we'll get that in other key posts. It is an interesting trend, I'll give you that one."

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