Universities of the World: Cambridge

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The University of Cambridge is a publicly owned university located in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209 by scholars who left Oxford (after an apparently bloody dispute with townsfolk), it is the third-oldest continuously operating university in the world.

Cambridge and Oxford are known as the two “ancient universities,” and sharing many features in common, they are sometimes jointly referred to as Oxbridge. Between them they have produced a large number of Britain’s most prominent historical figures.

Both were founded more than 800 years ago, and during most of that time they were the only two universities in all of England and Wales. This certainly intensified a rivalry which still continues to this day, as they both continuously jostle for top position in the UK university league tables. Probably the most famous manifestation of the Oxford-Cambridge rivalry is their annual Boat Race, which, since 1829, has pitted the Cambridge University Boat Club against their Oxford counterparts over a four-mile (6 km) stretch of the River Thames.

Today, Cambridge is a collegiate university with a student population in excess of 18,000. Its faculties, departments and 31 colleges occupy different locations in town, including purpose-built sites. It is currently ranked second by the QS world university rankings.

Over the years, Cambridge alumni have made some of the most important contributions ever to the advancement of science, including the articulation of the scientific method by Francis Bacon, the discovery of the laws of motion by Sir Isaac Newton, the discovery of evolution by natural selection by Charles Darwin, and a myriad of other discoveries too numerous to list here.

Notable Alumni:

Science:

Sir Isaac Newton – discovered and named the laws of motion

Sir Francis Bacon – inventor of the scientific method

John Wallis – inventor of modern calculus

Charles Darwin – posited theory of natural selection

Francis Crick and James Watson – developed first model of DNA

David Attenborough – famous naturalist and TV broadcaster

Jane Goodall – Anthropologist and renowned chimp expert

Alan Turing – Father of modern computing

Lord Kelvin – forumulated original laws of thermodynamics

Georges Lemaître – first to posit the big bang theory

Literature:

Valdimir Nabokov – modernist novelist of Lolita and Pale Fire

Sir Salman Rushdie – author of the novels Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses

John Miltion – poet, author of Paradise Lost

Douglas Adams – author of The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and subsequent series

Michael Chrichton – contemporary pop novelist of Jurassic Park

Film:

Sir Ian McKellan – stage and film Actor

Sam Mendes – Academy Award-winning director of American Beauty

John Cleese – comedic actor of Monty Python fame

Stephen Fry – co-creator of television series The Office and subsequent adaptations

Hugh Laurie – title actor of television series House

Related Posts:

Universities of the World: Stanford
Universities of the World: Harvard
Universities of the World: Princeton

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