Stephen Hawking (1942-2018).
Photostatic copy typescript of his PhD thesis, 'Properties of expanding universes', corrected in autograph, signed (twice, 'S.W. Hawking') and inscribed ('This dissertation is my original work'), Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 15 October 1965.
117 pages, 254 x 200mm; the text in photostatic copy, with the exception of the preliminary Abstract and the References to Chapter 3 (in top-copy typescript), and the References to chapter 1 (carbon typescript); one equation in Chapter 3 in autograph, and two entries in References to Chapter 2 and three entries in References to Chapter 4 completed in autograph, one or two amendments or marks in other hands. Green cloth binding, lettered on spine 'Properties of expanding universes – S.W. Hawking'. Provenance: the estate of the late Professor Stephen Hawking.
'This dissertation is my original work': one of five known copies of Hawking's PhD thesis.
'The idea that the universe is expanding is of recent origin. All the early cosmologies were essentially stationary and even Einstein ... found it natural to suggest a static model of the universe. However there is a very grave difficulty associated with a static model such as Einstein's ... The early cosmologies naturally placed man at or near the centre of the universe, but, since the time of Copernicus we have been demoted to a medium sized planet going round a medium sized star somewhere near the edge of a fairly average galaxy. We are now so humble that we would not claim to occupy any special position ...'. Hawking's thesis looks at the implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe: chapter 1 examines the 'grave difficulties' this poses to the Hoyle-Narlikar theory of gravitation; chapter 2 concludes that 'galaxies cannot be formed as a result of the growth of perturbations that were initially small'; chapter 3 looks at gravitational radiation; and chapter 4 at the occurrence of singularities [black holes] in cosmological models: 'It is shown that a singularity is inevitable provided that certain very general conditions are satisfied'.
After studying as an undergraduate at Oxford, Hawking moved to Trinity Hall, Cambridge for his graduate studies in October 1962, having famously told the examiners at the viva (oral) for his finals that 'If you award me a First, I will go to Cambridge. If I receive a Second, I shall stay in Oxford, so I expect you will give me a First'. However, his first year at Trinity Hall coincided with his diagnosis with motor neurone disease, leading to a period of depression in which he abandoned his studies, and he only resumed them after it became clear that the diagnosis that he had only two years to live was unfounded. His thesis is therefore in a sense his expression of renewed confidence in the future, and in many ways set the direction of his future work – particularly in his interest in singularity theorems – as well as his style, combining popularising flair with a willingness to challenge received wisdom. His renewed attention to his studies coincided with his engagement to Jane Wilde, and they married on 14 July 1965, almost exactly three months before the date of his thesis: it was Jane who typed the work out, adding the many scientific equations by hand. In 2017, Cambridge University made the thesis publicly available to download on its website: it was viewed more than 60,000 times in the first 24 hours, and interest was such that it overwhelmed the server. The present copy is one of five thought to exist.
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