Portal:University of Cambridge

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The University of Cambridge Portal

University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge (informally "Cambridge University", or simply "Cambridge"), located in the city of Cambridge, England, is the second oldest university in the English-speaking world and the fourth oldest in Europe. The name is sometimes abbreviated as Cantab. in post-nominals, a shortened form of Cantabrigiensis (an adjective derived from Cantabrigia, the Latinised form of Cambridge). The university grew out of an association of scholars in the city of Cambridge that was formed, early records suggest, in 1209 by scholars leaving the University of Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk there. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge are often jointly referred to as "Oxbridge". In addition to cultural and practical associations as a historic part of British society, the two universities also have a long history of rivalry with each other. Academically, Cambridge is consistently ranked in the world's top five universities and as a premier leading university in Europe by numerous media and academic rankings. The University's alumni include 88 Nobel Laureates as of 2012. (more...)
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James Clerk Maxwell
From 1748 to 1909, the University of Cambridge published a list of the rankings of the mathematicians in each year. The Senior or Second Wranglers were those who obtained the top marks in the Mathematical Tripos, the undergraduate mathematics examination. The prestige associated with the position of Senior Wrangler gradually increased through the course of its existence. In its heyday, the 19th century, the results of the exams would be reported in the major newspapers, such as The Times. Second Wranglers (the runners-up) such as James Clerk Maxwell (pictured) and William Thomson, went on to make considerable contributions to their fields. The order of merit listings began in 1748 and ended in 1909. The two top colleges in terms of number of Senior Wranglers are Trinity and St John's with 56 and 54 respectively. Obtaining the position of a highly ranked Wrangler created many opportunities for the individual's subsequent profession. They would often become Fellows initially, but these were only short term appointments in most cases, before the individual moved on to other professions, such as law, the Church or medicine. (more...)

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Charles Darwin (circa 1859)
Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who proposed and provided evidence for the theory that all species have evolved over time from a common ancestor through the process of natural selection. This theory came to be accepted by the scientific community in modified form, forming much of the basis of modern evolutionary theory, a cornerstone of biology. Darwin's early interest in nature led him to neglect his course in medicine at Edinburgh University and instead help to investigate marine invertebrates, then the University of Cambridge encouraged a passion for natural science. His five-year voyage on the Beagle established him as a prominent geologist whose observations and theories supported uniformitarianism. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838. In 1858, Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay describing a similar theory, causing the two to publish their theories in a joint publication. His 1859 book On the Origin of Species established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of the diversity of life in nature. (more...)

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An 18th-century Persian astrolabe from the collection of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Cambridge.  The museum was founded in 1944 when Robert Stewart Whipple presented his collection of scientific instruments to the University.
Credit: Andrew Dunn
An 18th-century Persian astrolabe from the collection of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Cambridge. The museum was founded in 1944 when Robert Stewart Whipple presented his collection of scientific instruments to the University.

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The King to Oxford sent a troop of horse,
For Tories own no argument but force:
With equal skill to Cambridge books he sent,
For Whigs admit no force but argument.

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