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Life on Campus

U of T’s First-Rate Rankings U of T

UBC

McGill

Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities

26th

1st

37th

2nd

64th

3rd

Times Higher Education World University Rankings

19th

1st

22nd 2nd

28th

3rd

QS World University Rankings

23rd

2nd

51st

3rd

17th

1st

Higher Education Evaluation Accreditation Council of Taiwan Performance Ranking of

9th

1st

29th

2nd

36th

3rd

Scientific Papers for World Universities (HEEACT)

Autumn is university rankings season, and this year U of T laid claim to top-30 places on four of the most prestigious of these rankings, shown here. In three of the four, U of T was the highest ranked university in Canada. QS World University Rankings also evaluates universities in 26 specific subject areas. U of T earned a top-20 ranking in most of them, and placed among the top 10 in English, modern languages, philosophy, computer science and statistics. Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, says its list of top 200 universities represents approximately the top one per cent of higher education institutions worldwide. U of T had placed 17th in its rankings last year; however, “securing a place once again within the top 20 is an outstanding achievement,” says Baty.

U of T’s Scientific Heritage Two students have collected hundreds of the university’s 19th- and early 20th-century scientific instruments This glass bottle, known as a crookes tube, is actually a distant

ancestor of the television. Purchased by the University of Toronto early in the 20th century, it’s a simple yet elegant demonstration of cathode rays: electrons are projected at the small metal cross, casting a shadow inside the glass. A small nudge tips the cross over, but its afterimage remains. The same principle was the basis for the tubes that still power millions of televisions. The Crookes tube is one of hundreds of 19th- and early 20th-century scientific instruments being collected, preserved, photographed and catalogued by the U of T Scientific Instruments Collection (UTSIC), which is dedicated to preserving such pieces of the university’s scientific heritage. “There’s a real culture of newness in science departments,” says Ari Gross, a PhD student with the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology and director of collections with UTSIC. The nature of scientific research means there’s a constant churn of new gadgets coming in, and old ones being unceremoniously turfed. Such treasures lurk in basements all over campus.

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Crookes tube

At the moment, the project operates with almost no funding, subsisting on borrowed space and volunteer labour. “We’re just a couple of dudes in a basement,” jokes Erich Weidenhammer, a history of science PhD candidate and Gross’s co-director (though there are about 20 volunteers in total). But as UTSIC builds its collection, it hopes to receive official status within the university, so it can research the collection more thoroughly and make it more available to students. “These are important parts of the university’s history,” says Gross, surveying the shelves. Weidenhammer adds: “They look pretty cool, too.” – Graham F. Scott

Photo: Courtesy of University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection

U of T Magazine | Winter 2012  

U of T Magazine is the magazine for the University of Toronto community, published quarterly. Featuring news, events, research stories and p...

U of T Magazine | Winter 2012  

U of T Magazine is the magazine for the University of Toronto community, published quarterly. Featuring news, events, research stories and p...

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