The University of Oxford has been a world-leader in scientific research for over 800 years. The discoveries made here have changed the very way in which we live, from the way we predict natural disasters to how we fight disease. And it’s continuing to do so to this day. The UK has already reserved 100 million doses of the University’s COVID-19 vaccination.
When you consider that its students have included the likes of Stephen Hawking, it comes as no surprise that almost all the world’s most ambitious and gifted individuals dream of earning a spot in this prestigious school. Luckily, for those of us that probably won’t get to study in the same rooms as the late professor, the doors are open for visits.
So, what amazing and lesser-known discoveries came from Oxford? Here are a few of our favourites Oxford Discoveries
Saving lives seems to be a theme of Oxford’s discoveries. It was at the University of Oxford that Howard Florey and Ernst Chain pioneered penicillin, which is thought to have saved over 200 million lives globally. Though originally discovered by Alexander Fleming, it was at Oxford where clinical trials took place, proving penicillin’s ability to fight bacterial infections.
How Antibodies Work
Admittedly, antibodies were actually discovered at the University of Oxford. However, we didn’t really understand how antibodies worked until Rodney Potter alongside American physician Gerald Edelman unveiled their structure. Together, the scientists showed how antibodies bind together to form a barrier against disease. It may be common knowledge nowadays, but it remained a secret until 1967. The discovery earned Potter and Edelman a Nobel Prize in 1972.
Are you the kind of person who gets a tad squeamish around needles? Well, the days of using syringes to administer medications and vaccines might soon be over. British Professor Brian Bellhouse figured out a new way to administer injections without using needles in 1993. This new method shoots a high-pressure burst of powder into your skin, causing no pain whatsoever. Maybe there’ll be no need to feel a slight prick the next time you’re due a round of vaccines.
Science doesn’t always concern physics, chemistry and biology. Sometimes, it’s all about politics, as Oxford professors have proven with several academic studies, many of them firsts. Take Sir David Butler, for example, a political scientist at the University of Oxford. He and his team first legitimised the concept and coined the term for electoral swing, which measures the change in voter support for a particular political candidate or party. The electoral swing is now frequently used to make voting predictions.
Speaking of predictions, let’s talk about Professor Fred Taylor, who’s been working on satellite meteorology for over four decades at Oxford. He pioneered the technique of infrared remote sensing in the 70s, which is used to measure land and sea surface temperatures and even detect forest fires. In the 90s, infrared remote sensing uncovered the extent of the growing hole in the ozone layer. We wouldn’t be surprised to find out Taylor’s technique has saved – and will save – quite a few lives.
So, the University of Oxford is a site of iconic architecture, world-leading education and discoveries that have had a tremendous impact on just about every aspect of our lives. If you needed another reason to book a UK tour, now you have it.