Monday, March 10, 2014

What I'm most looking forward to: Cambridge University & Cavendish Laboratory

While I am so excited for everything we will see and do on our upcoming trip to London, I think I am most excited to see the Cambridge University and Cavendish Laboratory.  There is something extraordinary about being able to stand in the places where something significant has happened.  I could argue that all our destinations harbour moments of significance, in history, literature, popular culture, and of course, science.  But for me, Cambridge University and Cavendish Lab take the cake.

Cavendish Laboratory is the home of Watson and Crick. It is where they worked together to discover the structure of DNA (and then won the nobel prize).

Thomson, credited for discovering the electron and the first isotope, went on to win the nobel prize for his work in Chemistry.

Rutherford, father of nuclear physics, became the director of the lab in 1919, after discovering the nucleus of the atom and discovering the concept of radioactive decay and half life (while working in Canada, for which he won the Nobel Prize).  Under his leadership, Chadwick became the first person to split the nucleus in a fully controlled matter, as well as discovered the neutron and measured its mass.

Maxwell is the father of electromagnetism.  He is credited for the second biggest unification theory in Physics (and the third greatest Physicist of all time).  His work on electromagnetic fields, the movement of light, the existence of radio waves and more make his work so significant in the study of Physics.

But of course the number one physicist of all time is the great Sir Isaac Newton.  He spent much of his life here, formatting laws of Mathematics, Optics and Motion - and was dubbed the father of Modern Physics.  It was having tea and sitting in the gardens where he first questioned why is it things fall to the earth with the consistent rates of acceleration.  Newton's apple tree (or a great grandchild of the original) is still on the grounds to this day.

Of course Cambridge is also home to more recent scientists, like Sanger, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, for sequencing Insulin and determining the amino acids upon which it was built, and of course the slightly more famous Stephen Hawking, scientist with a focus on back holes and the big bang theory, (and a few more huge theories trying to unify all Physics) and current Director of Research at the Centre of Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.

Sir Isaac Newton, in a letter to Sir Robert Hooke once wrote, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."  And Cambridge is home of many giants.  And I am so excited to stand where they stood.

No comments:

Post a Comment