Cavendish Laboratory

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Cambridge, University of

Cambridge, University of, at Cambridge, England, one of the oldest English-language universities in the world. Originating in the early 12th cent. (legend places its origin even earlier than that of the Univ. of Oxford), Cambridge was organized into residential colleges, like those of Oxford, by the end of the 13th cent.


The 31 colleges presently associated with Cambridge, with their dates of founding, are Peterhouse, or St. Peter's (1284), Clare (1326), Pembroke (1347), Gonville (1348; refounded as Gonville and Caius, 1558), Trinity Hall (1350), Corpus Christi (1352), King's (1441), Queens' (1448), St. Catharine's (1473), Jesus (1496), Christ's (1505), St. John's (1511), Magdalene (1542; pronounced môdˈlĭn), Trinity (1546), Emmanuel (1584), Sidney Sussex (1596), Downing (1800), Homerton (1824; for students of education), Girton (1869), Selwyn (1882), Hughes (founded 1885 as Cambridge Training College for Women; approved foundation 1968), St. Edmund's (1896), Churchill (1960), Fitzwilliam (founded 1869 as a noncollegiate society, became a college 1966), and Robinson (1977).

The women's colleges are Newnham (1871), New Hall (1954), and Lucy Cavendish (1965). Girton (formerly a women's college) and Newnham were pioneers in university education for women. Although women took university examinations in the 1880s and after 1921 were awarded degrees, their colleges were not admitted to full university status until 1948. Darwin College (1964), Wolfson College (1965; founded as University College, renamed 1973), and Clare Hall (1966) are graduate institutions.

Curriculum and Facilities

Cambridge was a center of the new learning of the Renaissance and of the theology of the Reformation; in modern times it has excelled in science. It has faculties of classics, divinity, English, architecture and history of art, modern and medieval languages, Oriental studies, music, economics and politics, history, law, philosophy, education, engineering, earth sciences and geography, mathematics, biology, archaeology and anthropology, physics and chemistry, and medicine. There are also departments of veterinary medicine, chemical engineering, land economy, and the history and philosophy of science as well as a computer laboratory.

Cambridge's famous Cavendish Laboratory of experimental physics was opened in 1873; the Cavendish professors have been outstanding names in physics. The chapel of King's College (1446), the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the botanic gardens are notable features of the university. There are also centers for African, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and South Asian studies; international law; archaeological research; medical genetics; and superconduvtivity research. Instruction at Cambridge is similar to the system at Oxford, except that tutors are called supervisors and the degree examination is known as the tripos. Until 1948, Cambridge sent two representatives to Parliament. Cambridge Univ. Press dates from the 16th cent.


See E. Vale, Cambridge and Its Colleges (1959); F. A. Reeve, Cambridge (1964); C. R. Benstead, Portrait of Cambridge (1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cavendish Laboratory


a physics laboratory at Cambridge Univeristy (Great Britain). It was founded in 1871 by the Duke of Devonshire, a relative of Cavendish, after whom it was named. The laboratory was initially used only as a training center for experimental physicists. Later (chiefly under the supervision of J. J. Thomson and E. Rutherford), it became one of the foremost scientific research laboratories in the world. The directors of the Cavendish Laboratory have been J. C. Maxwell (1871–75), J. W. Strutt (Baron Rayleigh) (1879–84), Thomson (1884–1919), Rutherford (1919–37), W. L. Bragg (1938–53), N. F. Mott (1945–71), and A. B. Pippard (since 1971). The world’s foremost physicists have worked at the laboratory, including Rutherford, C. T. R. Wilson, J. S. E. Townsend, O. W. Richardson, M. L. E. Oliphant, F. W. Aston, P. M. S. Blackett, J. Chadwick, J. D. Cockroft, J. D. Bernal, P. Langevin, P. L. Kapitsa, F. Crick, and J. Watson.

The scientific problems that have been dealt with at the Cavendish Laboratory over the years include the electric discharge in gases, nuclear physics research, crystallography, X-ray structure analysis, molecular biology, and radio astronomy. Discoveries made at the laboratory include the discovery of the electron (1897), artificial nuclear spallation (1919), and the neutron (1932). A model structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was proposed (1953) at the laboratory, and the Wilson cloud chamber (1912), the mass spectrograph (1913), and the linear accelerator (1932) were created there.


Wood, A. The Cavendish Laboratory.Cambridge, 1946.
Larsen, E. The Cavendish Laboratory, Nursery of Genius. London, 1962.
Thomson, G. P. J.J.Thomson and the Cavendish Laboratory in His Day. London, 1964.

I. D. ROZHANSKII [11–-1]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Akshay Rao, a Research Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, who lead the study with colleagues Philip Chow and Dr.
Crick and Watson of the United States discovered the double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in 1953 while working in Cavendish Laboratory in Britain.
It was 1953, while working in Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, that Northampton born Crick, 36 at the time, and the American Watson, just 24, struck upon the famous double-helix structure - like a twisted ladder - of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA.
Professor Brian Josephson, recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1973, is director of the Mind-Matter Unification Project of the Theory of Condensed Matter Group at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, England.
In their 1953 article in Nature announcing the discovery--which was accompanied by an article by Franklin telling what she knew about DNA--Watson and Crick, of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, said merely that they had been "stimulated by a knowledge of the general nature of the unpublished experimental results and ideas of Dr.
What would seem to be the final rift arose after an informal conference at the Cavendish Laboratory in the summer of 1951 at which Wilkins reported on the DNA work being done at King's.
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Thornson at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, England.
A team at the UK's Cambridge University Cavendish Laboratory has developed a memory design that could lead to multi-gigabit chips the size of a thumbnail replacing current DRAM and Flash memory designs.