Interest in “Properties of Expanding Universes” is at an all-time high: Stephen Hawking’s doctoral thesis of that name crashed Cambridge University’s open-access repository on the first day the document was posted online.
When an unknown physics student submitted his completed PhD thesis in 1966 he had no idea thousands would still be clamouring to read it more than 50 years later.
But when Stephen Hawking’s Properties of Expanding Universes was published yesterday (October 23) as part of Open Access Week 2017 – an annual event which aims to open up academic resources to the masses.
Cambridge University’s Open Access system reportedly kept crashing throughout the day as servers struggled to cope with demand from readers.
And the problems appear to be persisting today.
Prof Hawking, who is now 75, said: “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 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!”
To make more of the university’s theses available via Open Access, the Office of Scholarly Communication and Cambridge University Library will digitise the theses of any alumni who wish to make their dissertation available in this way.