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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.

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Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum