News A colony of ants have set up home in the International Space Station as part of an experiment to see how their behavior changes in an environment of low gravity

It's hoped the way they adapt their foraging behavior will help to develop smarter robots

Album: Guided by Voices, Let's Go Eat the Factory (Fire Records)

After a 15-year hiatus, the "classic" line-up of Dayton, Ohio, lo-fi veterans reformed in 2010 for a year-long tour, culminating in this new album of 21 songs with titles such as "Doughnut For a Snowman".

Album: White Denim, Last Day Of Summer (Downtown)

Before recording this year's acclaimed album D, the prolific White Denim snuck into drummer Josh Block's home studio one last time to initiate second guitarist Austin Jenkins into the band.

Mogwai, Roundhouse, London

If ever a night was suited to the cathartic strains of Glasgow's premier instrumental rockers, it was this one.

Music & Me: Stuart Braithwaite and Barry Burns of Mogwai

Stuart Braithwaite (vocals, guitar) and Barry Burns (guitar, keyboards) are members of the Scottish post-rock five-piece Mogwai. The group, who formed in Glasgow in 1995, released their seventh studio album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, in February. Their “Earth Division” EP is released on 12 September

Album: Eliza Carthy, Neptune (Hem-Hem)

She's on the cover, smirking in front of an old map: a naughty sea god(dess) in a Cruikshank cartoon. Which somehow suits the discursive post-folk rompery of the music: highly arranged, wordy as an Elvis Costello song with larks taking the place of bitterness.

Album: Trumpets of Death, Teeth + Teeth = Teeths (Tin Angel)

On the intriguing Teeth + Teeth = Teeths, Leeds combo Trumpets Of Death investigate a niche, but potentially fruitful area where traditional folk music rubs up against avant-noise, post-rock textures.

Album: Bill Callahan, Apocalypse (Drag City)

Apocalypse is Bill Callahan's best release in some while, sustaining a unity and intimacy of mood throughout. A Western song-cycle, it opens with Callahan as the "Drover", herding cattle and exulting in his "wild, wild country".

Mogwai, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London

It's sobering to realise that Mogwai have now been on the scene for 15 years. No longer the Blur-baiting noisenik upstarts, they're probably now the elder statesmen of the entire post-rock movement, and they have the pattern baldness to match.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Heaven, London

The warm-up act was only half joking when they said they'd been asked to play their set twice to fill in as a snow-impeded Jon Spencer Blues Explosion raced across London. More than an hour after they left us, the audience was decidedly tepid. So it was lucky that when JSBX finally turned up, their menacingly synthesised New York sound soon sent the temperature gauges soaring.

Album: Tera Melos, Patagonian Rats (Sargent House)

Google "Patagonian rat" and you mostly get pictures of people smoking weed.

Album: Elliott Smith, An Introduction to (Domino)

A figurehead of US indie before his untimely 2003 death, the man dubbed "Mr Misery" may need no introduction to many, but any re-affirmation of the singular vision beyond the sensitive stereotype is welcome nonetheless.

Andrew Buncombe: Doctors or no doctors in North Korea? Healthcare in the hermit state

I’ve never been to North Korea and I’ve no idea what the health care system is like.

The Locust and the Bird: My Mother's Stor, By Hanan al-Shaykh

Hanan al-Shaykh was seven years old when her mother abandoned her. After this, the young Hanan "tucked her out of sight, in a box in [her] head", and it is years before her mother again enters her thoughts, let alone her life.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there