Science & Technology

You Can Now Read Stephen Hawking's Original PhD Thesis Online for Free

On the list of legendary scientific geniuses, Stephen Hawking is near or at the top. Ever wonder what it'd be like to peer into his mind? As of October 2017, you can. For the first time, Hawking's 1966 PhD thesis is available for anyone to read online for free. This is what the work of a then-unknown 24-year-old mastermind looks like.

Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde on their wedding day, July 14, 1966.

The Library Is Open

To celebrate Open Access Week 2017, the University of Cambridge was granted permission by one of its most famous alums, Stephen Hawking, to make his PhD thesis available online free. It's been a long time coming, too. Just the catalog record of the work gets hundreds of views on Cambridge's Open Access repository, Apollo, over the course of a few months. Does it surprise you to hear Hawking's 1966 thesis is the most requested item in Apollo?

Drumroll, please. Check out the monster document "Properties of expanding universes" written by the then-unknown 24-year-old Cambridge postgraduate right here.

As soon as it was made available online, science lovers across the internet freaked out big time. The thing broke the internet. A University of Cambridge spokesperson told 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." The paper looks at implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe, concluding that "galaxies cannot be formed as a result of the growth of perturbations that were initially small."

Don't Let Me Down

Following the announcement, Hawking told the University: "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 Ph.D. 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!"

Stephen, we seriously doubt anyone is disappointed.

If you like Stephen Hawking, then you should check out his book "The Universe in a Nutshell"! We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Stephen Hawking's Thesis Crashed Cambridge's Website

Written by Joanie Faletto March 14, 2018

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