University of Manchester

Global Influence
Public research university in Manchester, England

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About University of Manchester

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Christopher Jackson ranks among our Top Influential Earth Scientists Today.

Jamie Peck ranks among our Top Influential Earth Scientists Today.

Brian Cox ranks among our Top Influential Physicists Today.

By James Barham, PhD

With more than 40,000 students, Manchester is the largest single-site university in the United Kingdom. While it traces its roots back to the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute founded in 1824, the present university was formed by the merger of University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and Victoria University of Manchester in 2004.

Manchester can boast of some 25 Nobel laureates (including four who are on staff today) among its faculty and students, including such great physicists as J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, and Hans Bethe. In fact, it was at Victoria University of Manchester, in 1911, that Rutherford performed one of the most celebrated experiments in the history of science.

In order to investigate the structure of the atom, Rutherford and his assistants repeatedly fired “alpha particles” (hydrogen nuclei) at a sheet of gold foil. While most of the particles went straight through the sheet, a small number of them were scattered at different angles, including a few that were reflected 180° backwards. Rutherford correctly interpreted this to mean that the atom consists of a small kernel (nucleus) surrounded by a large expanse of empty space—the “Rutherford model” of the atom. He later said that these results were so unexpected, he could not have been more surprised if he had fired a gun at a piece of tissue paper and the bullet had bounced back at him!

Besides such historical breakthroughs as Rutherford’s famous gold-foil experiment, Manchester can also boast a number of more-recent cutting-edge achievements in science in technology. For example, the first working, stored-program computer, named “the Baby,” was created here in 1948 by Frederic C. Williams and Tom Kilburn. The Baby was based on a cathode-ray tube digital storage system devised by Williams.

Another noteworthy representative of Manchester’s scientific prowess is Herschel Smith, an organic chemist who developed a new means of synthesizing novel steroid compounds (hormones) while at Manchester. After taking his patented inventions to the US in 1961, Smith went to work for Wyeth Laboratories, where he was instrumental in developing the first marketable birth-control pill. His inventions while at Manchester also led to the development of important drugs for treating endocrine disorders.

Of the 25 Nobel laureates with ties to Manchester—in addition to Thomson, Rutherford, Bohr, and Bethe, already mentioned—we may note:

  • James Chadwick, Charles T.R. Wilson, Lawrence Bragg, & André Geim—physics
  • John Polanyi & Melvin Calvin—chemistry
  • John Hicks & Joseph Stiglitz—economics

While Manchester is best known for the high caliber of its offerings in the natural sciences—especially in the Schools of Physics and Astronomy, of Biological Sciences, and of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Civil Engineering—the School of Social Sciences has an excellent reputation, as well. The latter is particularly strong in the fields of sociology and economics, especially development economics, as witnessed by the Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI), which was founded at the University of Manchester in 2005. The BWPI’s inaugural chair was Joseph Stiglitz.

Other distinguished individuals associated with Manchester include:

  • Philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre
  • Novelists, Anthony Burgess
  • Architect, Norman Foster
  • Comedians, Rik Mayall, Ben Elton, Jennifer Saunders, & Milo Yiannopoulos
  • Actors, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rob James-Collier, Toby Jones, Jonathan Ke Quan, & Armeena Khan

According to Wikipedia, The University of Manchester is a public research university in Manchester, England. The main campus is south of Manchester City Centre on Oxford Road. The university owns and operates major cultural assets such as the Manchester Museum, The Whitworth art gallery, the John Rylands Library, the Tabley House Collection and the Jodrell Bank Observatory—a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

University of Manchester's Online Degrees

What Is University of Manchester Known For?

University of Manchester is known for it's academic work in the following disciplines:

University of Manchester's Top Areas of Influence With Degrees Offered

Who Are University of Manchester's Most Influential Alumni?

University of Manchester's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Anthropology, Physics, and Chemistry. Here are some of University of Manchester's most famous alumni:

Alasdair MacIntyre
Alasdair MacIntyre
A Scottish philosopher.
J. J. Thomson
J. J. Thomson
A Quimico.
James Chadwick
James Chadwick
An English physicist who discovered the neutron in 1932.
James Lovelock
James Lovelock
An English scientist, environmentalist and futurist.
James Prescott Joule
James Prescott Joule
An English physicist and brewer .
Andre Geim
Andre Geim
A Russian-born Dutch-British physicist.
Melvin Calvin
Melvin Calvin
An American biochemist.
Victor Turner
A British cultural anthropologist .
Andrey Korotayev
Andrey Korotayev
A Russian anthropologist, economic historian, comparative political scientist, and sociologist.
Norman Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank
A British architect .
Frederic Calland Williams
An English engineer.
Alfred Waterhouse
Alfred Waterhouse
A British architect .

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