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.
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
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