Dear University of Cambridge,
Congratulations on publishing Stephen Hawkings’ PhD thesis, “Properties of expanding universes” online. I along with many others salute your commitment to open access!
However, I’m a little disappointed that alongside the PDF of the scanned thesis, there isn’t a text version available.
There are some important reasons to create a text version:
- Accessibility to those with dis-abilities,
- Access by those on low-bandwidth connections (the scanned PDF is ~20 MB).
I think my point is particularly appropriate, given that Stephen Hawking himself relies on a wheel-chair and other assistive technologies.
A useful first step would be to publish the abstract, table of contents, and extended meta-data (including license) in HTML/ text format.
Here is Hawking’s thesis abstract (via Google Scholar and the British Library):
Some implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe are examined. In Chapter 1 it is shown that this expansion creates grave difficulties for the Hoyle-Narlikar theory of gravitation. Chapter 2 deals with perturbations of an expanding homogeneous and isotropic universe. The conclusion is reached that galaxies cannot be formed as a result of the growth of perturbations that were initially small. The propagation and absorption of gravitational radiation is also investigated in this approximation. In Chapter 3 gravitational radiation in an expanding universe is examined by a method of asymptotic expansions. The ‘peeling off’ behaviour and the asymptotic group are derived. Chapter 4 deals with the occurrence of singularities in cosmological models. It is shown that a singularity is inevitable provided that certain very general conditions are satisfied.
And, here’s a tweet on the subject.
P.S. Full disclosure. I write this fully accepting that my own PhD thesis is currently only available as a scanned PDF. I need to change this! (However, my thesis has negligible or zero scientific or cultural importance, when compared with the work of Stephen Hawking ;).)
03 November 2017: The main url now points to a HTML page with extended meta-data - progress! Examining the Wayback Machine, it seems that the URL originally pointed to a HTML page, then changed so that it redirected (302) to the PDF. It has now been changed to serve a HTML page.
Cambridge University’s CUDL contains a table of contents:
- Abstract (image 9, page 2)
- Introduction (image 10, page 3)
- Acknowledgements (image 14, page 7)
- Chapter 1: The Hoyle-Narlikar theory of gravitation (image 15, page 8)
- Chapter 2: Perturbations (image 31, page 24)
- Chapter 3: Gravitational radiation in an expanding universe (image 54, page 47)
- Chapter 4: Singularities (image 101, page 94)
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