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.
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
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
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