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Eight fascinating facts about Cambridge

Think you know Cambridge? Think again. Here are some well-known facts about the city, mixed in with a few lesser-known gems.

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Centre of gravity

Mathematician, physicist and all-round polymath Isaac Newton was born in a modest Lincolnshire farmhouse. Legend has it this is where an apple fell on his head, prompting him to ask why things always fell down. He pursued this idea as a student in Cambridge, eventually publishing one of the most famous laws of physics – his theory of gravity – in 1687.

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The Eagle has landed

Francis Crick was part of a team studying the structure of DNA in Cambridge. In 1953, they published news of their game-changing discovery – the double helix. But not before Crick had popped into his local pub, The Eagle on Bene't Street, and announced to the lunchtime drinkers that they had ‘discovered the secret of life’. As you do. (The artist Odile Crick – a lecturer at Cambridge School of Art and Francis's wife – drew the original sketch of the double helix.)

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Cambridge Rules OK

The first game of football, as we know it, was played in Cambridge in 1848. The game took place on Parker’s Piece – a short stroll from our campus on East Road – and used the ‘Cambridge Rules’. These formed the basis of the Football Association’s rules, which were drawn up in 1863.

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Bear necessities

Aristocrat and poet Lord Byron was a student in Cambridge in the early 1800s. Byron wanted to keep a pet dog in his university rooms, but this turned out to be against the rules. So he brought a bear with him instead. Byron was famously described by his amour, Lady Caroline Lamb, as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’. And now we know why.

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Courts not quads

In architecture, quadrangles (or quads) are courtyards surrounded by buildings. They’re closely associated with universities and colleges, and quads are a feature of campuses worldwide, from Sydney to Dublin, and Harvard to Oxford. But not Cambridge. Cambridge has courts. Just because.

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Lights, camera, action

Good-looking Cambridge has been the backdrop for a number of famous films. Some you might expect: The Theory of Everything, with Eddie Redmayne as renowned physicist Stephen Hawking; and Sylvia, which tells the story of poets and Cambridge students Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. And then there’s a few you might not expect. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, anyone?

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Cambridge might be a buzzing 21st-century city, but its pastoral origins are still evident in the herds of cows grazing on common land. The cattle on Midsummer Common are such a fixture of city life that they even have their own Twitter account. https://twitter.com/CambridgeCow. You’re welcome.


Start me up

In recent years, Cambridge has become a tech hub, dubbed the Silicon Fen for its plethora of start-ups. It’s estimated that 18% of the UK’s computer gaming industry is based here, alongside a host of science and technology companies – some of them valued in the billion-dollar region. What better place for a computer science and digital technology graduate to get their foot in the door?

Interested in studying in Cambridge?