News A pedestrian makes their way along a snow packed street in Indianapolis

Much of the United States is currently in the grip of a polar vortex, a system of dense air producing plummeting temperatures and swathes of freezing weather, bringing some parts of the country to a halt and causing chaos in others.

Focus: Less than zero: A skate round the North Pole

A BRIEF HISTORY

Classical: Ninety degrees of solitude

The composer Robert Bachmann found the inspiration for his latest work during a lone sojourn at the very top of the earth - the North Pole.

You think your mum is invincible

SUE RICHES HAD JUST RECOVERED FROM BREAST CANCER WHEN SHE JOINED HER DAUGHTER, VICTORIA, ON AN EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH POLE. WHEN SUE FELL THROUGH THE ICE, VICTORIA WENT TO SAVE HER...; A Family Affair

North Sea search called off

North Sea search called off

Food for thought: Our friends in the south

Good food and south-east London are not words that you'll find written together very often. Pick up any reputable restaurant guide and you can guarantee that there'll be scant reference to eating establishments in the bottom right-hand corner of the capital.

Food for thought: tempted by the other side

The North Pole, 131 Greenwich High Road, SE10 (0181-853 3020) Locals know The North Pole as an old boozer but the owners decided not to change the name so people would know where to find it. It will also give north-of-the-river restaurant reviewers something to write about - it's probably easier to get to the real North Pole etc. However, when the DLR is finally completed, Canary Wharf will only be eight minutes away. The bar will be open all day, every day from this weekend and the restaurant will be open from Tuesday for lunch and dinner (closed Mondays). Owners Robbie O'Neill and Shaun Wilson have already identified other sites in south- east London with a view to further developments.

Television: More intimate than pillow talk

"COME WITH ME," said the mellifluous voice. And we went, although we knew it would be expensive. Because, as the voice told us, "to come with me you will have to travel across the globe from Australia, through Africa to America." Well, you know how it is. Sometimes - to find exactly what you want - it's necessary to get out and about. It's not as though you can rely on discovering it on your doorstep.

Ends of the earth ... for the ultimate holiday

For people attracted to the prospect of shooting the Colorado in a bathtub or traversing the Gobi on a mule, a British explorer may have come up with the ultimate holiday.

Santa's Travel: Santa Claus? Where's he when he's at home?

As you prepare to open up your chimney to its annual visitor and leave out mince pies and whisky (not forgetting a carrot for the reindeer), Simon Calder hunts for the home of Father Christmas.

Weather: A planet fit for our children to play in

The Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has just finished in Kyoto with a historic agreement to clean up the earth for future generations. Here is a transcript of the debate.

Three skydivers die in polar jump

Three parachutists died yesterday when a jump over the South Pole went tragically wrong. Investigators are trying to establish how the experienced skydivers apparently failed to deploy their chutes in time. One theory is that they may have suffered a "white out" because of the expanse of snow below them and not realised how near they were to the ground.

Weather: Where the wind blows

Aristotle was perfectly clear about wind. Since everything in the world was, in his philosophy, made of earth, air, fire and water, which in turn originate from each other, there had to be something filling the space between the earth and the nearest stars. And the only likely candidate was air. Now the air, much of which was formed by the evaporation of water, was dragged around by the rotation of the heavens. And that's what wind was.

Spill closes North Sea oil field

The oil giant Texaco said it had temporarily shut down its Captain field in the North Sea after about seven tonnes of oil were spilled into the sea. A spokesman said the shutdown was ordered early yesterday morning after an incident on the floating production, storage and offloading vessel which serves the wellhead platform.

British pair reach North Pole unaided

Stephen Martin and David Mitchell were cold, exhausted but happy last night as they sat under the midnight sun at the top of the world - the first British expedition to reach the North Pole unsupported.
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