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Cutting-edge Cambridge – the frontier of physics and science in England

9th July 2018

Well-known as a world-famous hub of academic activity, Cambridge is naturally home to a variety of colleges and facilities dedicated to pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding in all areas of study. The city has long been a centre of scientific excellence – from the Cavendish Laboratory Cambridge to the Sir William Dunn Institute of Biochemistry. Here we share some of Cambridge’s most significant scientific discoveries over the years celebrating its long and illustrious history as a place of earth-shattering insight and cutting-edge research.

Discovery of the electron

The Cavendish Laboratory Cambridge has long been a centre associated with ground-breaking discoveries – one of which was made by renowned Cavendish Professor of Physics J.J Thomson. In 1897 he discovered the electron, a breakthrough that laid the foundations for modern physics – including the development of electronics and computer technology.

Splitting the atom

In 1922 Cavendish Laboratory’s John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton split the atom for the first time – giving birth to the study of nuclear physics. Without this discovery nuclear power simply wouldn’t be a possibility. 

Development of magic bullet drugs

So-called ‘magic bullet’ drugs travel straight to the source of serious diseases such as cancer to fight them on a cellular level. This revolutionised many aspects of drug design and promises to save many lives in the future – a significant breakthrough promising to combat a variety of illnesses.

The foundations for Newton’s gravitational theory

Newton’s gravitational theory was greatly influenced by discoveries made in Cambridge as early as 1675. John Flamsteed (also known as Astronomer Royal) provided data used by Newton to verify his ground-breaking theory. This has since provided the basis for our understanding of the earth and life on the planet as we know it – as well as the relationship between us and other planets in the solar system.

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The Pirbright Institute

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