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.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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 Look To The Internet To Raise Research Funds

Feb 15, 2013
Originally published on February 15, 2013 8:39 am



Scientists have made an important discovery, and not really a scientific one. They've learned they can raise money for their research simply by going on the Internet and asking people for support. We heard yesterday how that worked for one researcher. Still, scientists have no idea why this approach is working or how much money they can raise this way. Here's NPR's Joe Palca with the next installment of his project Joe's Big Idea.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: If there's one thing I've learned as a science correspondent, it's that when scientists are mystified by a phenomenon, they investigate.

ETHAN PEARLSTEIN: Have you ever given to a crowdfunding project before?

COLONY MERCHANT: No, this is my first time.

PALCA: Pharmacologist Ethan Perlstein is sitting across from Paolimi Merchant at Dewey's Flatiron, a not-so-upscale bar on Fifth Avenue in New York City. He's invited people for lunch here who contributed to his successful $25,000 fundraising campaign.

ETHAN PERLSTEIN: Had you been kind of looking to fund something like this or was it completely from left field, (unintelligible) sounds cool?

PAOLIMI MERCHANT: Yeah, it just sounded cool.

PALCA: Not terribly helpful. Pearlstein raised the money so he could continue his research on how drugs affect the brain. What supporter Mitchell Scott Lampert likes about Pearlstein's plans is that there are no guarantees about what he'll find.

MITCHELL SCOTT LAMPERT: I think the nice thing about discovery is that it's hard for it to go wrong, unless the folks working behind it are incompetent, which I doubt. They're going to discover something.

PALCA: So if Mitchell Scott Lampert is typical, selling science as a voyage of discovery will get people to donate. But is he typical? Who knows? There does seem to be a consensus that the first step in crowdfunding science is to make a video pitching your research. And it doesn't have to be a particularly slick video.




JESSICA RICHMAN: And I'm Jessica. I'm here to tell you about an exciting new project that we're working on, uBiome.

PALCA: Zach, Will and Jessica are Zachary Apte, William Ludington and Jessica Richman. uBiome is all about understanding the human microbiome, the collection of microbes in your body. Going in, Richman said she and her colleagues had no idea whether their pitch would be successful.

JESSICA: There's a lot of uncertainty. You sort of don't know if you're going to raise $10 or $1 million and you have to sort of be prepared, or keep your mind open for those any of those things to happen.

PALCA: Turns out they hit it big - one of the few to raise more than a quarter of a million bucks from their Internet campaign. And I think they were as surprised as anyone. It seems likely they caught a recent of wave of interest in what's living in our guts, and people get something when they contribute: a personalized readout of the bacteria in their own digestive tract. Richman says they chose to crowdfund their project rather than use traditional types of fundraising because they wanted to engage the public in the project.

RICHMAN: There's something magical that happens with the crowdfunding where you start getting, you know, 500 emails from people telling you, well, does it do this? What about that? Or why doesn't it do that? And that really helps you refine what you're doing and understand better what people's questions and needs are.

PALCA: So far, most of the scientists who've tried crowdfunding haven't raised anything close to $250,000 - maybe 5,000 tops.

JAI RANGANATHAN: People say, you know, what can I do with $5,000? I'm an ecologist. You can do a lot of things for $5,000.

PALCA: Jai Ranganathan is with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California. He's also cofounder of SciFund Challenge, an effort to encourage scientists to crowdfund. He says for an ecologist, $5,000 is enough for several months of field work.

RANGANATHAN: Not all science is, you know, sending a rocket to Mars.

PALCA: Now, I got to tell you, there are some critics of crowdfunding. They worry that crowdfunding will turn science into a popularity contest.

RANGANATHAN: Only the panda bear research is going to get funded. My very serious research will never get funded this way - that's the worry. And, in fact, it's dead wrong.

PALCA: He says even esoteric projects can raise money.

RANGANATHAN: We had a microbiologist in New Zealand who was studying the evolution of e. coli in mouse guts. Wow. There's nothing very particularly sexy about that, but she was such a gifted communicator, I'm saying, hey, this is why it's exciting.

PALCA: And to tell the truth, Ranganathan says scientists ought to get better at selling their science.

RANGANATHAN: My goal is to change the culture of science, the one where scientists are reaching out to the public.

PALCA: Ranganathan says scientists need to be persuaded that reaching out to the public is a good thing.

RANGANATHAN: Some do, and many do a fantastic job. But generally do scientists reach out? No, they don't. We need a new argument. How about money? Money seems to be a good argument sometimes.

PALCA: Frankly, the idea of being financially rewarded for being a good science communicator always seemed like a worthy goal to me. Joe Palca, NPR News.

MONTAGNE: And you can find more stories about what's going on inside the world of sciences and inventors at


Kickstarter, of course, is one of the most popular crowdfunding platforms out there. It debuted in 2009, allowing people to pitch their pet projects online to a wide audience. And now there's a new way for individuals and small businesses to get attention, and for potential backers to find ideas they may want to support. Kickstarter is going mobile. It just released its first iPhone app. There's no app, though, for Android devices. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.