Stephen Hawking’s 1966 doctoral thesis has broken the internet after becoming available to the general public for the first time.
Popular demand for the thesis, entitled Properties of Expanding Universes, was so great on Monday that it caused Cambridge University’s repository site to go down. The site was still inaccessible at 7.30pm on Monday.
The “historic and compelling” thesis had swiftly become the most-requested item in Cambridge’s open access repository, Apollo.
The university made the essay public at midnight on Sunday to mark Open Access week after hundreds of readers sent in requests to download Hawking’s thesis in full.
A University of Cambridge spokesperson said: “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.
“As a result, visitors to our Open Access site may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable.”
The work considers implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe, and its conclusions include that galaxies cannot be formed through the growth of perturbations that were initially small.
However, until the university increases the website’s capacity to deal with requests, or demand falls, the paper is likely remain unavailable to many of those trying to access it.
Users on Twitter appeared to be patient and sanguine about the technical difficulties.