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Luhman 16B is the nearest brown dwarf to Earth, and the third nearest star system to our solar system

In what sense is HS2 plan progress?

I am pro-public transport and so are the Wildlife Trusts. The trusts have furnished HS2 with a huge amount of information about the impact of the proposed routes, and so far there's been no recognition of that information being received or, more importantly, taken into account.

Sir David (above) said Professor Brian Cox was the man 'to carry the torch'

And so the older male makes way for a younger rival... David Attenborough reveals his choice of successor: Professor Brian Cox

After six decades of bringing the wonders of the natural world to television audiences, Sir David Attenborough has finally anointed a successor.

David Attenborough narrated Africa, but China Central Television was also a key contributor

Chinese state funds behind BBC's Attenborough series

Viewers hypnotised by the BBC's landmark series Africa, with its stunning images of fighting giraffes and baby turtles scuttling into the sea, are watching pictures partly funded by the state of China, it can be disclosed.

Earth was hit by gamma ray burst from space in eighth century, say scientists

A massive cosmic explosion in deep space sent out a pulse of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth between the years 774AD and 775AD when the emperor Charlemagne ruled much of Western Europe, scientists have found.

Book of a lifetime: Casgliad o Ysgrifau by TH Parry-Williams

Casgliad o Ysgrifau, by TH Parry-Williams, is the book of its author's lifetime. It brings together nearly all of the short essays that he published between 1928 and 1966, and in which he regularly cast back to his early childhood in Snowdonia. In my opinion, ysgrifau is better translated with the more literal "writings". For, more than anything else, Parry-Williams used the form to write out what Konstantin Mochulsky, referring to Dostoevsky, called the "enigma of his personality".

Postcard from... Cern

It's just another day of digital carnage in the Hadron Collider, the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator.

Balloons, a blimp and deep sea divers all require helium

A ballooning problem: the great helium shortage

It’s used in everything from kids parties to medicine – but now supplies are running so low scientists want to ration it. Steve Connor reports on the great helium shortage

Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk, Thursday 3 January

Volcano visit

Page 3 Profile: Stephen Hawking, physicist

Another incredible discovery for the world famous scientist?

2012 breakthroughs: Curiosity rover landing system

Scientific breakthroughs: From bone fragments to Higgs boson, the tiny finds with huge consequences

Winners of this year’s best breakthroughs revealed

Toyota's violin-playing robot plays at Tokyo's Universal Design Showcase in 2007

Vaccines will wipe out drug addiction and other predictions for the next century

Should you be lucky enough to survive Friday's apocalypse, there's lots to look forward to in the next 110 years (and a few things to be screamingly terrified of).

Mary Dejevsky: Why I would want to carry a gun in the US

Now is not a good time to admit this, but when I went to Washington as correspondent in 1997, I had two ambitions. The first was to become proficient in Spanish – for demographic reasons that are even more obvious now than they were then – the second was to learn to shoot.

A cosmic collision: Two satellites due to smash into surface of the moon… but don't worry, it was all planned by Nasa

NASA has deliberately guided the twin satellites into a cliff close to the moon’s northern pole

The Emperor's New Clothes (16/12/12)

Need a degree to get on? Not if our most respected experts are anything to go by, says English graduate Matthew Bell

Higgs zombies? CERN students make 'scientist fiction' film in Large Hadron Collider

Murderous zombies are stalking the dark underground passageways of the renowned CERN physics centre near Geneva, hunting young scientists who have survived a devastating failure in its world-famous particle collider.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home