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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John Dee. Sixteenth century portrait, artist unknown.
John Dee was a noted British mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, geographer and consultant to Elizabeth I. He also devoted much of his life to alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy. Dee straddled the worlds of science and magic. He studied at St John's College, Cambridge and he was a founding fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, where the clever stage effects he produced for a production of Aristophanes' Peace procured him the reputation of being a magician that clung to him through life. One of the most learned men of his time, he was lecturing to crowded halls at the University of Paris in his early twenties. He was an ardent promoter of mathematics, a respected astronomer and a leading expert in navigation, training many of those who would conduct England's voyages of discovery. At the same time, he immersed himself deeply in Christian angel-magic and Hermetic philosophy, and devoted the last third of his life almost exclusively to these pursuits. For Dee, as for many of his contemporaries, these activities were not contradictory, but aspects of a consistent world-view. (more...)

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Senate House, illuminated with a light show for the University's 800th anniversary celebrations in 2009.
Credit: McAnt
Senate House, illuminated with a light show for the University's 800th anniversary celebrations in 2009.

Did you know...

  • ... that the Cambridge CAP was the first successful experimental computer that demonstrated the use of capabilities, both in hardware and software?

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The King, observing with judicious eyes
The state of both his universities,
To Oxford sent a troop of horse, and why?
That learned body wanted loyalty;
To Cambridge books, as very well discerning
How much that loyal body wanted learning.

(lines written on George I's donation of the Bishop of Ely's Library to Cambridge University)

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A view of the Old Court of Selwyn College taken from the south-west corner
Credit: Huangcjz
A view of the Old Court of Selwyn College taken from the south-west corner

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