News This 1348 painting shows how plague devastated European cities like Florence

Black rats are also implicated in both outbreaks, which took place 800 years apart

Breakthrough offers hope in breast cancer fight

A naturally occurring molecule in bacteria can block the development of breast cancer, scientists have discovered, paving the way for the design of more potent and selective drugs.

Oldest known fossils prove life began more than 3.4bn years ago

The fossilised remains of the oldest known lifeforms on Earth have been discovered in samples of rock collected near a remote watering hole in the middle of the Australian Outback.

And you thought it was just fluff? New bacteria found in belly-buttons

Scientists have found 1,400 strains of bacteria lurking in human belly buttons. The discovery was made during a study in which 95 volunteers allowed a team of microbiologists to gaze at their navels and take swabs from inside their belly buttons.

Germany: Sprouts did cause deadly E. coli outbreak

German vegetable sprouts caused the E. coli outbreak that has killed 31 people and sickened more than 3,000, investigators announced Friday after tracking the bacteria from patients in hospital beds to restaurants and then farm fields.

Bacteria link to Parkinson's

A stomach bug that causes ulcers may help to trigger Parkinson's disease, research suggests.

Antibiotics that reduce gut bacteria linked to obesity

Scientists believe that the widespread use of antibiotics may be playing a significant role in exacerbating the obesity epidemic.

'Lyme disease nearly made me come indoors,' says Ray Mears

Survival guru highlights tick-borne diseases

The conker canker: disease fells avenue of horse chestnuts

A sad milestone in the spread of a disease mortally affecting Britain's horse chestnut trees was passed this week when one of the country's noblest horse chestnut avenues was finally cut down.

It's life, but not as the scientists of Nasa know it

It was one of Nasa's most intriguing messages: an invitation to a briefing where it would "discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for extraterrestrial life". The event held on 2 December at Nasa's headquarters in Washington led to headlines around the world, including The Independent's "Science grapples with the concept that alien life may be among us".

New superbug strain affects youing and healthy

A new strain of the superbug MRSA has been detected on the Isle of Man, said health bosses.

Statins may ward off serious infections

Cholesterol-lowering drugs have a useful side effect - killing bacteria, scientists have discovered.

Cholera may have arrived on island 'years ago' from Asia

Medical briefing

Hard times cause hard feelings over office etiquette

Longer hours and job insecurity are blurring the boundaries between home and office – and not everyone approves

Errors & Omissions: We can't escape 'The Hobbit', but we can at least get the details right

Yesterday's Arts & Books section carried an interview with the Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro, who resigned from the Hobbit project some months ago when it looked as if the money men would never give the films the green light.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific