Stephen Hawking’s 1966 PhD Thesis Is Put Online And Proves So Popular It Crashes Cambridge University Website
After Stephen Hawking’s 1966 Ph.D. thesis was placed online for the very first time, it proved so wildly popular that it initially crashed the Cambridge University website that it was hosted on. The world clamored to read Hawking’s thesis, called Properties of Expanding Universes, and it appears that the strain was too much for the internet to bear. It is reported that even on Monday at 7:30 p.m., his thesis was still unavailable to read.
After numerous readers sent in requests pleading for Stephen Hawking’s Ph.D. thesis to be made available to the public, Cambridge placed it on Apollo, part of the university’s Open Access website, just after midnight on Sunday. However, even Cambridge had no idea just how many visitors their Open Access site would attract and swiftly found themselves faced with a crashed page.
A spokesperson for the University of Cambridge alerted the public to the broken website and explained that more than 60,000 readers had tried to download Stephen Hawking’s thesis soon after it was placed online, according to The Guardian.
“We have had a huge response to Prof Hawking’s decision to make his PhD thesis publicly available to download, with almost 60,000 downloads in less than 24 hours. As a result, visitors to our Open Access site may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable.”
Stephen Hawking wrote his 119-page thesis at just 24 years of age when he was studying at the University of Cambridge at Trinity College. ScienceAlert reports in an article originally published by Business Insider that an abstract of Hawking’s thesis vows to elucidate on “some implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe.”
When Hawking began his thesis, the tolls of the motor neuron disease he now suffers from had just started to take effect, yet at that time he had no difficulty with writing and was able to sign his own thesis on several occasions to show that his work was authentic and purely his own. Aside from his signature, Stephen Hawking was also able to write out difficult mathematical equations in his own hand.
After Hawking’s thesis in 1966, he was given his doctorate and soon afterwards found himself a fellow at the University of Cambridge at Gonville and Caius College.
— Cambridge University (@Cambridge_Uni) October 23, 2017
In explaining the reasoning behind Cambridge University placing his Ph.D. thesis online, Stephen Hawking explained that all citizens of the world should have complete and unhindered access to research and educational material, and not just his own.
“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. Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and inquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding.”
Hawking further stated that as he looked up to Albert Einstein and other great scientists when he was young, the youth of today have the same need that he once did and it is his fervent belief that those who are interested in his scientific theories should be able to read them at will.
“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.”
If you are interested in expanding your mind by reading about expanding universes, Cambridge University’s Open Access website is up again, and you can read Stephen Hawking’s Ph.D. thesis in full now.
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]