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Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis posted online, crashes Cambridge website

Pioneering theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis has for the first time been made available freely online, though high demand saw tens of thousands of Hawking fans crash the Cambridge website from which the 1966 work could be downloaded.

Hawking is famed for his groundbreaking work on relativity and black holes. His 1988 book “A Brief History of Time” became an unlikely bestseller, straddling the literary chasm between theoretical physics and popular non-fiction.

However, before all of that he had to get through university, and he wrote his thesis “Properties of Expanding Universes” as a 24-year-old student at Cambridge University in 1966. The 134-page scientific work is, according to the university, the most requested item in its library.

It’s popularity hasn’t waned since it was made available free just after midnight on Monday, causing the university’s Open Access repository Apollo, to go into meltdown.

“By making my PhD thesis Open Access, I hope to inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet; to wonder about our place in the universe and to try and make sense of the cosmos,” Professor Hawking said.” Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and enquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding.

“Each generation stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before them, just as I did as a young PhD student in Cambridge, inspired by the work of Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell and Albert Einstein. It’s wonderful to hear how many people have already shown an interest in downloading my thesis – hopefully they won’t be disappointed now that they finally have access to it!” he added.

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