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.

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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.

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Tech Idea List: Five Nerds To Watch In 2013

Jan 2, 2013
Originally published on January 3, 2013 12:32 pm

When Steve Jobs died, there was a lot of talk about who would be the next Steve Jobs. But the truth is, rarely can one person reshape the future. And breakthroughs are almost never the work of corporate titans.

Still, new technologies and the people who create them can give us a glimpse of what our future might look like. So as we head into 2013 here are my picks of five interesting technologists to keep an eye on.

In Silicon Valley and around the world there are thousands of folks toiling away on new technologies, convinced that the thing they are building will transform the way we live. And sometimes they are right.

Regina Dugan says there's a lesson in that. As she told a TED conference last year, "You should be nice to nerds. In fact I'd go so far as to say if you don't already have a nerd in your life you should get one."

Dugan is a huge fan of the nerd. She used to run DARPA, the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA helped create self-driving cars and supported the invention of the Internet.

So I decided to take Dugan's advice and introduce you to five techies whose research and work I will be keeping a close eye on in the coming year.

Nerd No. 1 is Dugan herself. At DARPA she oversaw a diverse group of projects — from developing a space glider that flies at 20 times the speed of sound to research into what it would take to bring high-tech manufacturing back to the United States.

Now Dugan is at Google, overseeing advanced research and technology for Motorola. She's keeping mum about what she's up to. I'm intensely curious — and we should hear more soon.

But in the meantime, on to nerd No. 2 — Babak Parviz. Ten years ago when he was a newly minted professor working on nanotechnology, Parviz would get up every morning thinking about his work and blindly groping his way to the bathroom to put in his contact lenses.

"So every morning I had this in my mind — how to make small things and how to put small things in new places," he recalled. "And every morning I was staring at this piece of plastic at the tip of my ... finger."

It wasn't long before he wondered if he could put tiny circuits on a contact lens itself. "What would that enable?" he wondered.

Ten years later, he is still working on it. "That got us started on a pretty interesting journey," he says.

Now Parviz is developing smart lenses that can talk to devices like your phone and display text. Other lenses could read body sugar levels someday. And a few are operated with such low power they can run on solar.

Parviz now splits his time between the University of Washington and Google, where he founded Google Glass. Google Glasses are smart, wirelessly connected glasses. Think of them as another tiny screen but this one is less than an inch from your eye.

Meet nerd No 3. Andreas Raptopoulos is willing to admit his idea is kind of out there.

It is called Matternet. And Matternet might be easier to understand if we start with the problem it's trying to fix.

"There [are] 1 billion people in the world today that do not have access to all-season roads," Raptopoulos explains. "So that means in the rainy season when roads are washed out there's 1 billion people in the world that are disconnected from all social and economic activity."

They are cut off from doctors and medicine. There is no mail, no trade. So Raptopoulos wants to build an automated network of lightweight drones to carry small packages.

In much of sub-Saharan Africa, conventional phone service never arrived. The miles of wire needed to make it work were never strung. Instead mobile phones came first. Raptopoulos wonders if something similar is possible in transportation.

That is the idea behind Matternet. The drones would move matter like the Internet moves bits. And Raptopoulos argues the cost would be minuscule compared with paving over a huge portion of the planet.

But not all nerds are radicals. Some are trying to just tweak what already exists and make it more powerful. That's the case with nerd No. 4 — Gina Bianchini, the founder of Mightybell.

2012 was a tough year for social Internet companies. But Bianchini believes this wave is just beginning. With Mightybell she hopes to unlock social media's power by helping small groups of people organize easily and quickly in the real world.

The largest social networks today are really broadcasting platforms, where anyone can reach a large audience of friends or followers.

In the real world, the most effective groups tend to be smaller — and built around a common purpose. If I build a great book club or baby-sitting co-op, Mightybell hopes to help you clone what I've done online and re-create a similar group in your own community.

This isn't Bianchini's first shot at trying to unlock social media's untapped potential. She was the co-founder and CEO of what was once one of the hottest social networks in Silicon Valley — Ning. She appeared on magazine covers and Charlie Rose. Ning was valued at close to $1 billion. And then came the fall. Bianchini exited unexpectedly. Ning ended its free service. Growth stalled, and ultimately Ning was sold for a fraction of its former value.

But in that great Silicon Valley tradition, that didn't mean the end for Bianchini. Today she is back. And she is as convinced as ever that the power of social media is largely untapped.

And my final nerd to watch — Eddy Cue — is perched on the top of the world.

Cue runs software and Internet services at Apple. His portfolio includes iTunes and the App Store. After the Apple Maps debacle last year and the departure of Scott Forstall, Cue inherited Maps, and Siri as well.

Apple became the wealthiest, most valuable technology company in the world by creating new categories of mobile devices and ushering in the post-PC era. But many analysts believe that dominating the businesses Apple helped create won't hinge on the design of devices as much as the quality of service those devices deliver.

We want our mobile phones to give us directions, tell us about our commute before we leave the garage and help us find the best places to eat. Those are areas where Apple arguably lags behind the competition.

It's Cue's job to catch up. And if Apple is going to create a new multibillion-dollar market by reinventing TV, Cue will play a big role there as well.

But he won't do any of this alone.

In fact none of the men and women I just mentioned do much of anything alone. As Parviz pointed out at a recent TED talk, "I would hazard a guess that the era of the solo star scientist is probably over."

Today's big problems are so complex — so interdisciplinary — that all of these people make their marks working in teams.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

When Steve Jobs died, there was a lot of talk about who would be the next Steve Jobs. But the truth is, rarely can one person reshape the future, and breakthroughs are rarely the product of a corporate titan. Still, new technologies and the people that create them can give us a glimpse of what our future might look like. So as we head into 2013, we decided to ask Steve Henn, NPR's Silicon Valley correspondent, to tell us who he will be keeping an eye on in the coming year.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: In Silicon Valley and around the world, there are hundreds, really thousands of folks who are toiling away on new technologies, convinced that the things they're building will transform the way we live. And sometimes, they're right. Regina Dugan says there's a lesson in that.

REGINA DUGAN: You should be nice to nerds.

HENN: Dugan used to run DARPA, the Defense Department's advanced research and projects agency.

DUGAN: In fact, I'd go so far as to say if you don't already have a nerd in your life, you should get one.

HENN: DARPA helped create self-driving cars and supported the invention of the Internet. Dugan is a huge fan of the nerd.

DUGAN: I'm just saying.

HENN: So I decided to take Dugan's advice and introduce you to five techies whose research and work I will be keeping a close eye on in the coming year. Nerd number one is Regina Dugan herself. At DARPA, she oversaw a diverse group of projects from developing a space glider that flies at 20 times the speed of sound to research into what it would take to bring high-tech manufacturing back to the United States. Now, Dugan is at Google, overseeing advanced research and technology for Motorola.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: She's keeping mum about what she's up to. I'm intensely curious, but in the meantime, on to nerd number two. His name is Babak Parviz. Ten years ago, when he was a newly minted professor working on nano technology, he would get up every morning thinking about his work and blindly grope his way to the bathroom to put on his contact lenses.

BABAK PARVIZ: So I had this always in my mind of how to make small things, how to put these small things into new places. And every morning, I was staring at this piece of plastic at the tip of my finger.

HENN: It wasn't long before he wondered if he could put tiny circuits on a contact lens itself.

PARVIZ: What would that enable? And that got us started in a pretty interesting journey.

HENN: Now, Parviz is developing smart lenses that can talk to devices like your phone and then display text. Others lenses could read body sugar levels someday, and a few are operated with such low power they can run on solar. Parviz now splits his time between the University of Washington and Google where he founded Google Glass. Google Glasses are smart, wirelessly connected glasses. Think of them as another tiny screen, but this one is less than an inch from your eye. So on to nerd number three.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDREAS RAPTOPOULOS: I'm Andreas Raptopoulos, the co-founder and CEO of Matternet.

HENN: His idea is kind of out there. In fact, it might be easier to grasp if we start with the problem he's trying to fix.

RAPTOPOULOS: So there's one billion people in the world today that do not have access to all-season roads. So that means that in the rainy season, when roads are washed out, there's 1 billion people in the world that are disconnected from all social and economic activity.

HENN: That means no medicine, no mail, no trade. So Raptopoulos wants to build an automated network of light-weight electric drones to carry small packages. He calls this idea Matternet. The drones would move matter like the Internet moves bits. And he argues the cost would be minuscule compared to paving over a huge portion of the planet to build new roads. But not all nerds are radicals. Some are just trying to tweak what already exists and make it more powerful. That's the case with nerd number four.

GINA BIANCHINI: My name is Gina Bianchini, and I'm the founder of Mightybell.

HENN: 2012 was tough on social Internet companies, but Bianchini believes this wave is just beginning. With Mightybell, she hopes to unlock social media's power by helping small groups of people organize easily and quickly in the real world. And my final nerd to watch, nerd number five, is Apple executive Eddie Cue. There's been endless speculation this year about how Apple could reshape how the world watches TV. If that vision comes to pass in 2013, Cue, who now runs software at Apple, will play a big role making it happen.

But he won't do it alone. In fact, none of the men and women I just mentioned do anything alone, as Babak Parviz pointed out in a recent Ted talk...

BABAK PARVIZ: I would hazard a guess that the era of solo star scientist is probably over.

HENN: Today's big problems are so complex, so interdisciplinary that all of these people make their mark working in teams. Steve Henn, NPR News, Silicon Valley.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.