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Luhman 16B is the nearest brown dwarf to Earth, and the third nearest star system to our solar system

The Lieutenant, By Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville's latest novel, about a young 18th-century English astronomer who is among the first settlers and soldiers to arrive in New South Wales, is historical fiction elevated into the category of "literary fiction", not so much by its research as by its psychological truth. Historical writers know that their readers demand a certain level of information: we want to learn about times different from our own, and it's not so much recognition that we crave in our ancestors as a sense of their difference.

Seeing Further: The Story of Science & The Royal Society, ed Bill Bryson

A celebration of 350 years of our academy of learning

Leading article: Apple turnover

Did Sir Isaac Newton really once see an apple fall from the tree in his Lincolnshire garden and suddenly conceptualise the physics of gravity?

EC awards contract for Europe's answer to GPS

The European Commission yesterday handed three companies a €1bn satellite contract for the Galileo, Europe's version of the Global Positioning System developed in the US.

Galaxy Quest: The search for Britain’s darkest skies

Light pollution has become a modern scourge – and few city-dwellers can identify even a single constellation. Where can we go to enjoy the celestial wonders? Simon Usborne reports from a truly heavenly corner of Britain

Avatar moons may become a science fact

Habitable alien moons like the one depicted in the blockbuster movie Avatar may become science fact within the next few years, according to a leading astronomer.

ET phone Rome: Vatican hosts alien life study

The Vatican has hosted a conference to study the possibility of alien life in the universe and its implication for the Catholic Church.

Victoria Summerley: A mellifluent tone to calm the country

It is perhaps appropriate that the man who transformed his character in The Archers from lusty young farmer to village patriarch, amateur astronomer, keen cook and pantomime musical director, should himself be something of a Renaissance man.

Nasa peers back into the 'cosmic dark ages'

A massive gamma-ray burst 13 billion light years away has thrown new light on the early years of the Universe

Nasa discovers huge ring of ice orbiting Saturn

A giant ring so faint it is all but invisible to conventional light telescopes has been discovered around Saturn by the infra-red imaging instruments on board Nasa's Spitzer space telescope.

Saturn's supersized ring uncovered

The faint ring extends more than seven million miles from the planet.

Seti: The hunt for ET

Scientists have been searching for aliens for 50 years, scanning the skies with an ever-more sophisticated array of radio telescopes and computers. Known as Seti, the search marks its half-century this month. Jennifer Armstrong and Andrew Johnson examine its close – and not so close – encounters

Cosmic cannibalising: Images show one galaxy engulfing another

As cosmic events go, this one is hard to beat. Scientists have built up a dramatic time-lapse picture of one galaxy swallowing up another in a cannabilistic act that takes place over a period of three billion years – about as long as it took for slime-like earthlings to evolve into humans.

Galileo's Dream, By Kim Stanley Robinson

The science of altering the past

The Soldier's War, By Richard van Emden

How much more vivid is this account of the Great War from letters and diaries than any orthodox history. The reports from Tommies and officers range from the baffling spectacle of sudden attack at the outbreak of war ("my men started curling up on the ground") and class subservience under fire ("I avenged Mr Davidson and felt pleased") to the vindictive quashing of the second Christmas truce of 1915.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
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Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
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Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
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David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
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From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
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Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
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Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal