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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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Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin