Life and Style Members of Falun Gong spiritual movement meditate at the Lafayette Park. A new study has suggested that spiritual activity such as meditation may hep prevent depression by thickening the brain cortex

Those who place a high level of importance on spirituality and religion were found to have thicker cortices in the areas normally associated with thinning in people at risk, than those who did not

From fragrant to popcorn: US scientists identify 10 categories for smells

Forget the unique aroma of fresh coffee, wild lavender or cut grass, according to US scientists there are just 10 basic smells.

David Byrne took to the stage at Columbia University School of the Arts as a band played his song 'Road to Nowhere'. He then played a slideshow of graphs to illustrate how hopeless arts graduates are

David Byrne gives Columbia students a once-in-a-lifetime downer of a commencement speech

Commencement address season has begun in the United States, when the great and good deliver university graduates into real life with uplifting aphorisms and positive-thinking platitudes.

Study shows dangers of BPA chemical used in plastic packaging

Bisphenol A is used to line drinks cans and in tests affected the way genes work in the brains of laboratory rats

Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca

On show after 80 years, the poetry of Federico García Lorca that General Franco couldn't kill

Murdered Spanish poet’s key work to debut at New York exhibition

Review: The Scientists, By Marco Roth

Union Books, £14.99

Rebecca Tyrrel: 'Uma Thurman got off lightly. Her brothers are called Ganden, Dechen and Mipam'

Who knew that Uma Thurman's father was the first Westerner ever to become a Buddhist monk? He popularised the faith in the US long before Richard Gere leapt aboard the saffron bandwagon.

Questions raised over ‘truth serum’ interview for suspected Aurora shooter James Holmes

A Colorado judge has given permission for James Holmes, the suspected Aurora shooter, to be interviewed using intravenous injections of so-called "truth serum" if the defendant pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.

Sundance Film Festival review:
Kill Your Darlings - Daniel Radcliffe provides a defining performance as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg

The man we know as Harry Potter bumbles with his sexuality as well as his famous spectacles

Donald Trump won't be able to make it to the convention

'The Donald' is trumped by Tropical Storm Isaac's force

He was in Sarasota, just south of Tampa, on Sunday night to pick up a "Statesman of the Year" award from local Republican bigwigs. But now Donald Trump won't be coming to the Republican convention – though it took one of nature's mightiest phenomena, to keep him away.

Professor Andrew Sarris: Film critic who played a leading role in promoting the ‘auteur’ theory

Pauline Kael opposed him – the two camps were known as the Sarristes and the Paulettes

Helaine Blumenfeld: 'Art is a commitment to risk, a reflection of life – nothing stays the same'

"Fearless" seems an odd description for Helaine Blumenfeld, an artist who makes unabashedly beautiful sculptures, but in a moment when beauty and spirituality are considered pejorative descriptions for artworks, it takes a courageous artist, particularly a woman, to persevere.

The Flying Man, By Roopa Farooki

Roopa Farooki cites her late father, Nasir Farooki, and his gambler's life, as the inspiration for her fifth novel. Her words are warm and were we to read the acknowledgement before the novel, we might imagine a story that pays homage to a roguishly loveable father. However roguish the central character of The Flying Man might be - a charlatan by trade, despite his family wealth - he is not loveable but a shallow, selfish charmer. Farooki creates a difficult, despicable anti-hero and attempts to shed light on what keeps him in his psychologically stunted state.

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery in Downton Abbey

Schama, Fellowes, and the 'cultural necrophilia' row that would make Lady Grantham grimace

As Downton Abbey takes US TV by storm, its creator is under attack from America's favourite British historian

James Franco is said to have only attended two out of 14 lectures

Professor 'fired for giving James Franco a D grade'

A university professor is claiming that he lost his job after he gave James Franco an embarrassing 'D' grade in a course he was teaching on account of the knock-'em-dead actor and perennial student showing up for only two out of the 14 lectures he was expected at.

Revealed: climate quirk that doubles risk of war

New study shows stark correlation between the fluctuations of El Niño and the incidence of civil conflicts
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital