News

The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

From loony left to loony righteousness

Under the scathing title "If there is no God, what is the Oxford atheist scared of?" Paul Johnson issued (in the Spectator on 16 March) a rousing challenge to Richard Dawkins to debate the existence of God in public with him. But no, says Johnson, the man is scared. Why else "his craven refusal to come out of his safe academic burrow and debate with me ... the existence or non-existence of God"? Johnson thinks Dawkins doesn't know whether he can do it: "He is unsure of his arguments, his cause and his skills. He is scared he would make a fool of himself in front of the world ..."

Teasing the nuts from the bolts

Science and Wonders: Conversations about Science and Belief by Russell Stannard, Faber, pounds 8.99; Science and religion continue to bicker over who owns what, says Colin Tudge

BOOK REVIEW / The eve of destruction

THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: Biodiversity and its Survival by Richard Leakey & Roger Lewin Weidenfeld pounds 18.99

Toads spring right-handed surprise

Toads are right-handed, according to a team of Italian and Australian biologists.

LETTER: When students turn to Jesus

From Dr Richard Dawkins

Art and science may both be ways of understanding the world, but that does not mean they are interchangeable enterprises. In fact, it's likely that a Richard Dawkins of the arts is an impossibility

Brian Eno asked an impertinent question earlier this week. Before handing the Turner Prize over to Damien Hirst he put this to the assembled gathering: "Why have the sciences yielded great explainers like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, while the arts routinely produce some of the loosest thinking and worst writing known to history?" An impertinent question, whatever its larger pertinence, because the gathering in front of him contained quite a few of the people responsible for that writing. He was rewarded for his frankness with a slightly uneasy murmur, the almost imperceptible sound of fur being rubbed the wrong way.

out there: Seeing (and feeling) is believing

Everyone has felt the sensation of being watched, only to turn round and discover that they are, indeed, being watched

Mail apologises over Powers libel

High Court: Actress earns 'substantial' damages over adultery claims

BOOK REVIEW / PLUS cA CHANGE

DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA by Daniel C Dennett, Allen Lane pounds 25

Is adultery natural?

OPINIONS

BOOK REVIEW; Once more into the gene pool

RIVER OUT OF EDEN: Richard Dawkins; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 9.99

Travels in conceptual space

Peter Bowler praises an authoritative account of the evolution of Darwin's genius; Charles Darwin: Voyaging Janet Browne Jonathan Cape £25

Sun, sand and sex-change turtles

The "Sunshine State" is running out of sand and Florida's desperate authorities want to transport replacement supplies from the Bahamas, 50 miles away.

Up the pole

Anthony Powell, in his diary, describes Dorothy Hodgkin as a hag and a biologist ("At Lady Maggie's..." 21 January). She was neither. I painted Hodgkin's portrait in 1987 (the painting now hangs at the Royal Society of Chemistry in Burlington House), and she had one of the most interesting faces I have ever seen, serene and beautiful, a face that reflected her character and her intellect.

Giant sperm that ensure paternity

Scientists have discovered the ultimate weapon in the battle of the sexes: giant sperm which guarantee that a male cannot be cuckolded.
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
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Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
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Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
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Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
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Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
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Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
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Ross Burden pictured in 2002
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried