Stephen Hawking’s doctoral thesis has been made publicly available online for the first time – and it sparked so much interest that it “reportedly crashed its host website when it was initially uploaded,” the Conversation reports. The 119-page document submitted by then 24-year old Hawking is titled “Properties of an Expanding Universe”, and covers several topics that have echoed through his career such as the origins of the universe, gravitational waves, and singularities.
The document which is being hosted here at Cambridge’s Apollo catalogue of academic work contains an official stamp from Cambridge University that dates back to February 1, 1966, the year Hawking was awarded his doctorate. Business Insider reports that at that time, Hawking was beginning to suffer from the motor neuron disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which would eventually leave him paralyzed. However, even at that point he was still able to write. He signed his thesis several times, and included a hand-written declaration that says “This dissertation is my original work.”
In a statement at University of Cambridge’s news release, Hawking says “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!”