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London: British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking's PhD thesis was accessed more than two million times "from every corner of the globe" within days of it being made available to the public, a media report said on Saturday.
Hawking's 1966 work proved so popular on the day of its release on Monday that it crashed the publications section of Cambridge University's website, the BBC reported. More than 500,000 people have also tried to download the paper, titled "Properties of expanding universes". Arthur Smith, from the university, called the figures "monumental".
"This is far and away the most accessed item we have in the university's Apollo repository," Smith, deputy head of scholarly communication, told the BBC. "I'd hazard a guess that professor Hawking's PhD thesis is also the most accessed item from any research repository ever. We've never seen numbers like this before."
Hawking, 75, wrote the 134-page document as a 24-year-old postgraduate student while studying at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. The astrophysicist, who has been at Cambridge University since 1962, would later go on to write "A Brief History of Time", one of the most influential scientific works ever.
Since May 2016, 199 requests were made for the PhD, most of which are believed to be from the general public rather than academics. The next most requested publication was asked for just 13 times, reports the BBC. Previously, to read Hawking's PhD in full, people had to pay 65 pounds to the university library to scan a copy or physically go to the library to read it.