Asteroid DA14 is the size of a city block and will pass within 17,000 miles of Earth in February

How to defend against asteroids and meteors

Typically the preserve of science-fiction, now top of the news agenda, the prospect of an asteroid striking earth is raising alarm. This morning a meteor streaked across the sky in Russia, causing explosions and injuring 400 people. Later today a 150-ft asteroid will shave past earth at 17,000 miles distance, the closest recorded. If it hit, it could flatten London. So what defences do we have?

Shavers and Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden in 1977 getty

Jonathan Rendall meets Earnie Shavers: 'Our rendezvous was a cheap Chinese restaurant...'

Jonathan Rendall, the award-winning journalist who died last month aged 48, was one of the greats of ‘Independent’ sportswriting.  He was a key figure in the early years of ‘The Independent on Sunday’, gracing the pages of both titles throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He specialised in boxing, bringing to life its characters with a Runyonesque vividness. In a tribute to his life and work, we here reprint one of his best pieces, an encounter from 2003 with the American ex-heavyweight boxer Earnie Shavers, whom Rendall tracked down in the unlikely setting of a Chinese restaurant in Liverpool

Diff'rent Strokes star Conrad Bain dies at 89

Actor Conrad Bain, best known for his role on the 1970s and '80s television comedy Diff'rent Strokes as a wealthy, white New Yorker who adopts two young black boys from Harlem, has died at age 89, his daughter has confirmed.

Journeyman: Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins takes on the Dwarves

The Hobbit: An Unexpected box office smash with $200 million global opening weekend

Despite weak reviews and a problematical production process, Peter Jackson's first Hobbit instalment looks set to be more successful than the Rings films

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

Will machines kill mankind? Cambridge academics want to know

Academics highlight threat of super-intelligent technology

Cold Specks, Union Chapel, London

When Al Spx sings away from the mic, her earthy vocal carries through the airy nave, proving this a fine match of venue and performer: a cavernous church, with its hard, cramped pews, and the stark spirituality of this Canadian singer/songwriter.

County Championship round-up: Monty magic upstages Trescothick milestone

Marcus Trescothick completed his 50th first-class century, confirming his return to form in an injury-hampered season, but was upstaged by Monty Panesar as Sussex push to prove themselves to be authentic title challengers by beating Somerset at Taunton.

Surrey are up against it after Tim Murtagh picked up five wickets

County Championship round-up: Surrey edge nearer trap door after Murtagh's five-wicket haul

Once upon a time, the punishment for an England player deemed to have let his country down would have been to be sent back to his county to serve his time. How Surrey would wish that were the case now. With Kevin Pietersen made unavailable by England despite his exclusion from the Test side at Lord's, they were bowled out for 144 by Middlesex at The Oval, and a quick return to Division Two as reward for a desperate, tragic season seems all the more likely.

Will Smith is Agent J, and Josh Brolin does an uncanny impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones as a young Agent K in <i>MIB 3</i>

Men In Black 3, Barry Sonnenfeld, 106 mins (PG)
What to Expect When You're Expecting, Kirk Jones, 110 mins (12A)

What we want from Smith and Jones is ray guns, bug-eyed monsters – and a lot more fun

The Cabin in the Woods (15) / Battleship (12A) (3/5, 2/5)

Starring: Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth / Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson

Pantomime dame dies during show

A pantomime dame has collapsed and died during an amateur performance of Dick Wittington in Curdridge, near Winchester.

Close encounters with the master

As J J Abrams's homage 'Super 8' hits the screens, Ryan Gilbey reveals his own eight-point guide to building a Spielberg-inspired blockbuster

County round-up: Smith brings terrible year to an end with unbeaten 153 for Durham

Will Smith went to the same school as Alastair Cook but there, of late, the similarities have ended. While Cook has just enjoyed the finest year of his career, batting England to a tremendous Ashes success Down Under, the last 12 months have not been kind to fellow Bedford boy Smith. The Durham man stepped down as captain just over a year ago and last season he featured only on an irregular basis for the then county champions.

County round-up: Sidebottom and Pyrah leave Yorkshire on top

Ryan Sidebottom wreaked havoc against his former county as Nottinghamshire's decision to bat first backfired badly at Headingley yesterday but it was the in-form all-rounder Rich Pyrah who ultimately took centre stage.

Justin Bieber praises father figure Will Smith

Justin Bieber says Will Smith has become a father figure to him.

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Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker