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.


Why Do Engineers Put Faces On Their Robots?

Jan 18, 2013

Scientists at Queen's University Belfast have shown that crabs will avoid a location where they have received electric shocks in the past.

Does this show that crabs feel pain?

Paul Hunt, a biologist at the University of Leicester, expresses skepticism in The Guardian:

I don't think you can really say scientifically that animals, like a crab, can be aware of a sensation that we know as pain ... we just don't know.

The problem here is very general, however, and not restricted to crustaceans.

Do we ever know?

Our friend grimaces, or flinches, or recoils. We don't wonder whether she feels pain. The suffering is there for us to witness.

But how do we know? Pain, after all, is a feeling, not a way of acting.

Why do engineers put faces on their robots? Not because the robot needs a face to do what it is built to do. It is rather that the engineers understand that where there is a face, we can hardly resist supposing that there is a mind.

Or consider: it is well-known that people with facial injury are often treated as if they are cognitively impaired. We can't help but feel that behind the impassive face there is a dull mind, even when we know that this is not the case.

The fact is: we find it easy to attribute mind to what looks and acts like a human being and we find it almost impossible to attribute mind to what does not.

Certain ways of acting are, for us, natural expressions of feeling. This is not something science has taught us. In a sense, it is not something we know. But nor is it a mere prejudice or confusion. It belongs somehow to our very conception of mind.

Now crabs don't look like us. They don't grimace or cry out.

But in relevant respects, at least, they act like us. They actively avoid electric shocks.

It's hard to resist the conclusion that crabs don't like electric shocks. And this seems reasonable, after all, since shocks hurt!

Indeed, the worry that maybe the crab is merely acting like a creature that doesn't like shocks, but without any corresponding experience, begins to seem downright silly.

You can keep up with more of what Alva Noë is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @alvanoe

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