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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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Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
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Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
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Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
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Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
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<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
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Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
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Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
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Day In a Page

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
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor