News Demonstrators protest against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outside the UN offices in Geneva during the talks on Friday

At first the talks were delayed for 24 hours, then Syria’s foreign minister threatened to walk out. But last night the two sides agreed to be in the same room. Kim Sengupta reports from Geneva on the UN mission to end the bloodshed

Scientists find Earth-like planet Alpha Centauri Bb in neighbouring star system but rule-out possibility of life thanks to its 1,500C surface

The planet is the closest and smallest among about 800 'exoplanets' that scientists have identified beyond the Solar System since 1995 when they detected the first extra-solar planet.

Anthony Hilton: Switzerland is not the haven it is thought to be

Last Sunday at a speaking engagement down in Bath I sat next to a Swiss guy who wrote trading algorithms and software for Geneva based hedge funds. It was that sort of dinner – a place where the mathematically gifted fund managers exchange ideas and theories with academics on how to predict market movements.

Mona Lisa (left)
Leonardo’s preferred medium was wood, not canvas which the Isleworth version is painted on. Art historian Martin Kemp said: 'The head, like all other copies, does not capture the profound elusiveness of the original'
The 'Isleworth' Mona Lisa (right)
The Mona Lisa Foundation's researchers claim they can identify Leonardo's brush strokes. Art historian Stanley Feldman said: 'It strikes us that in order for that to be so accurate... only the person who did one did the other.'

Experts claim 'Mona Lisa' had a bit of previous

The Mona Lisa's elusive smile has enthralled visitors to the Louvre for generations, but yesterday a Swiss foundation unveiled what it said was an earlier version of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, claiming it was completed over a decade before the famous Renaissance painting.

Usain Bolt, third from the left, wins the 200m in Lausanne last night

Blake makes his point as Bolt enjoys Swiss stroll

Clinical Jamaican sprint stars pick up where they left off at London 2012 Olympics

Travel Challenge: Summer in Switzerland

Each week, we invite three companies to offer us their best deal for a specific break. Today: a summer holiday in the Swiss Alps. Prices are per person, based on two people travelling together. Each package includes a week's accommodation and flights from the UK in mid August.

From left, Ban Ki-moon, Annan and
Sergei Lavrov yesterday

Annan in last-ditch attempt to rescue Syria peace talks

International powers agreed yesterday that a transitional government should be set up in Syria to end the bloodshed there, but they left open the question of what part President Bashar al-Assad might play in the process.

Assad could be offered new clemency deal

Britain and the US may soon be pressured to consider clemency for President Bashar al-Assad as part of a new political transition package for Syria.

An aerial view of the Silverstone circuit

Silverstone joins circuits' bid for bigger say in F1's future

Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix, has joined forces with all the circuits that host Formula One races in a union to give themselves greater say in negotiations over the future of the sport.

Kofi Annan warns of risk of civil war in Syria

International envoy Kofi Annan says world powers share a “profound concern” that Syria's violence is spiraling into civil war but have pledged to deploy 300 truce monitors there by the end of the month.

A view of Sarajevo from a former sniper position on Mount Trebevic

Suffering goes on for 330,000 refugees of the Yugoslav war

Twenty years after the siege of Sarajevo began, thousands of survivors remain displaced

Brooke-Rose: as well as her fiction, she was a formidable critic and scholar

Christine Brooke-Rose: Writer acclaimed for her inventive and playful experimental fiction

Christine Brooke-Rose was a richly innovative novelist and a formidable critic. She moved between languages, countries and identities without securing a fixed place in a literary canon or a national culture, but this mobility, combined with her inventiveness, humour and insight, madeher particularly well-equipped to grasp the contemporary world of signs and simulations.

Faster-than-light claims 'a mistake'

The experiment that was supposed to have proved Albert Einstein wrong by showing that sub-atomic particles can travel faster than the speed of light is more than likely to have been an error, scientists said yesterday.

A damaged tank in the Bab Sabaa neighbourhood of Homs

UN compiles Syria crimes investigation list

The United Nations has a secret list of top Syrian officials who could face investigation for crimes against humanity carried out by security forces in their crackdown against an anti-government uprising, a panel of UN human rights experts said.

Mad, bad and darling to know

Riots and protests by the disaffected poor with the looming spectre of "mob rule", have often troubled MPs and lords at Westminster.

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Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
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Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
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The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
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Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
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Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

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Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
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A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
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Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
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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