Blow your mind by reading Stephen Hawking’s 1966 doctoral thesis online
In March 1966, as the England football fans were psychologically preparing themselves for World Cup disappointment, a 24-year-old Stephen Hawking published his doctoral research paper: Properties of expanding universes. More than fifty years later, to celebrate Open Access Week 2017, that 119-page behemoth was published online.
You almost certainly want a TL;DR summary, so here it is: the thesis examines the implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe, before concluding that galaxies cannot be formed as the result of early perturbations. As a final act, it provides a model of gravitational radiation and expansion showing that time singularities are inevitable.
Yep, it’s a dense read. Even to examine as a historical document, it’s quite compelling though – complete with a typed dedication to his supervisor and a handwritten statement of originality: “this dissertation is my original work – SW Hawking.”
“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,” Hawking said. “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.”
“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.”
Demand has been high for Hawking’s early work, and the university claims it is comfortably the “most requested” work in the open repository, being subject to hundreds of requests.
In the unlikely event that anybody wants to read my considerably less historically important dissertation on sexuality in dystopic fiction, just say the word: happy to follow Hawking’s lead on this one.