Life and Style

Johanes Kepler, who was born on 27 December 1771, was born near Stuttgart and made his foray into astronomy after he worked as a maths teacher in Graz, Austria - where he became an associate of Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg.

Amerigo Vespucci was born in 1454

Paradise lust: the man who sexed up America

He had two continents named after himself and thrilled Europe with the salacious tales of what he saw there. But, 500 years on, can we trust Amerigo Vespucci's accounts? Peter Popham discovers the full story

Album: Graham Reynolds, The Difference Engine (Innova)

Graham Reynolds is the quintessential modern composer, able to turn his hand to anything from rock to ballet to movie scores to jazz.

Harkaway says: 'I used desperately to want to be a brooding hero from literature, but I'm optimistic, healthy and fair-haired.'

One Minute With: Nick Harkaway, novelist

Where are you now and what can you see?

Festival of the Spoken Nerd,
Bloomsbury Theatre, London

If there was a theme to Festival of the Spoken Nerd's mix of science and comedy tonight then it was pyrotechnics. From a tale of homemade napalm to a demonstration of a standing wave flame tube there were flashes and bangs aplenty, if no explosive end result.

Michael Gove has been using his wife's email account, known as the 'Mrs Blurt'

Michael Gove brands ICT curriculum 'a mess'

ICT in England's schools is a "mess" and must be radically revamped to prepare pupils for the future, Michael Gove has said.

Between The Covers: New Year detox, The maths of The Simpsons, and the year ahead

Your weekly guide to what's really going on in the world of books

Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People, Bloomsbury Theatre, London

"It's not overlong, it's value for money!" exclaimed Robin Ince at the end of the second night of his third series of seasonal rationalist jamborees, celebrations that are akin to the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures with jingle bells on.

The Devotion of Suspect X, By Keigo Higashino

Unbearable tension in a Tokyo tale

Leading article: United by knowledge

Nostalgia for a return to the Victorian era is usually prompted by a desire to regain the discipline of a less liberal and cosseted period and a more rigorous and stricter education system.

The Roots, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Few groups have the musical courage of The Roots. Philadelphia's favourite hip-hop sons approach a genre overrun with blandness and imitation, with the intelligence and precision of a mathematician, combined with an alchemist's passion for experimentation. What other group, regardless of genre, would not only employ a full-time sousaphone player but start their show with a solo from him? It's hard to imagine anyone else having the nerve, much less the talent, to make it work.

Leading article: Choices for the future

Countering the bad news about the continuing decline of traditional modern languages is this year's sharp rise in the number of those taking maths and the sciences. These subjects have seen a 6 per cent increase or more in entries – significantly more in the case of chemistry. As for university applications, physics is back in the top 10 subjects for the first time in almost 10 years.

Katy Guest: Mumsnetters have a code, and they are not alone, BTW

Look away now, all of you who thought that SMOG was an acronym for a society of geeks called the Secret Masters of Gaming.

The enduring myth of music and maths

Is there really a link between melodic and mathematic ability? Think carefully before buying those 'Mozart effect' CDs, says Tim Gowers

Dr Dee, Palace Theatre, Manchester<br/>The Crash of the Elysium, MediaCity UK, Salford<br/>Biophilia, Campfield Market Hall, Manchester

Damon Albarn's opera makes an ambitious attempt to resurrect the spirit of a once important Elizabethan courtier

Boyd Tonkin: Marathon authors run for their lives

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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us