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Cambridge website crashes after Hawking's 1966 PhD thesis goes free online | Updated: 2017-10-25 11:14

Cambridge website crashes after Hawking's 1966 PhD thesis goes free online

Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York, April 12, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - Stephen Hawking's PhD thesis has caused the University of Cambridge's website to crash after being made freely available to the general public for the first time.

The thesis entitled "Properties of expanding universes" explores ideas about the origins of the universe that have resonated through the scientist's career. It was published in 1966, and Hawking was not yet an internationally recognized figure and respected theoretical physicist.

The paper, which was already the most-requested item in its online repository, was made openly accessible on the publications section of university's website just after midnight on Monday to mark Open Access Week 2017.

Tens of thousands of people had accessed the academic's work in the first twelve hours after the university put the paper online.

But such was the demand to read the thesis, written by the physicist as a 24-year-old postgraduate, that the website intermittently  inaccessible during the day as it struggled to handle to the interest.

Cambridge University said more than 60,000 people have gone onto their website to read or download the work by Monday night.

Hawking gave the university permission to make the paper available and said he hoped making his thesis available to all would "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 has a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that has gradually paralysed him over the decades. He now communicates using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device.


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