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.


Study: Depression, Autism And Schizophrenia Share Genetic Links

Mar 1, 2013
Originally published on March 1, 2013 8:01 pm



Scientists have known for some time that genes play a role in disorders like major depression, bipolar disorder, autism, schizophrenia and ADHD. But a major new study published in the journal Lancet suggests that those five disorders may actually share some of the same genetic links. The study analyzed the DNA of more than 60,000 people around the world. Jordan Smoller is a professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. And he helped lead the study. I asked him what the study set out to find.

JORDAN SMOLLER: The big question was whether we would be able to see any specific genetic variations - that is variations in DNA - that were linked to not just one disorder but to all five of these disorders that we think of as quite different.

CORNISH: So what did you actually find?

SMOLLER: We did, in fact, find several specific genetic variations that seemed to increase the risk for all five of these different disorders. And interestingly, a couple of them seemed to cluster in what we call calcium channel signaling genes. And these are genes that are important in how brain cells communicate.

CORNISH: When you say genetic variations, does this mean that certain people might be predisposed to the development of these disorders? Is that where this is leading?

SMOLLER: Well, we do think that genetic variation - that is differences in DNA sequence - contribute to some vulnerability to these disorders. They are not destiny - that is, it doesn't account for all of the risk. But it turns out that all the psychiatric disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders that have been studied so far have demonstrated some genetic component. And we're just beginning to see research that is identifying the specific genes that may be involved.

CORNISH: So what's significant about these findings? I mean, why is this important?

SMOLLER: Well, there are a few things, I think. One is that it suggests that there may be some degree of shared biology among these very different disorders that affect the brain. And the other is that it gives us some new leads to follow up - that is, to chase down some of what these genes may be doing. How is it that they have such broad effects? And can we, in fact, use that information to develop new and better ways to help people?

CORNISH: Let's get into that a little bit more. I mean, as a psychiatrist, what could this mean for the day-to-day work of people like yourself? I mean, are we talking about testing tools or about the treatment for these mental disorders?

SMOLLER: Well, that's a good question and in fact it's important to emphasis that we are not talking about testing tools here. These are actually a small fraction, we think, of the genetic component of each of these disorders. What it does do is point us in the direction of novel kinds of biological clues that could then be targets for treatment. And so, this then begins a process of looking for ways to translate that information into something that might actually be helpful to folks.

CORNISH: So now that you have this information, do you think it will change how people think or treat these disorders?

SMOLLER: Well, one of the interesting things is that our current system of classifying psychiatric disorders is really just based on symptoms rather than causes. And I think studies like this one, in conjunction with studies of brain imaging and behavior and so on, may help us begin to look at these disorders in a different way, to begin to understand them and maybe ultimately diagnose them based on their root causes rather than their symptoms.

CORNISH: Jordan Smoller, thank you so much for explaining it to us.

SMOLLER: Thanks so much for having me.

CORNISH: Jordan Smoller, he's professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.