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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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Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones