One of the hottest items on the internet this week was a 134-page, five-decade old physics thesis called, "Properties of Expanding Universes."
The overwhelming demand was due to it being the first time the 1966 Ph.D thesis of then 24-year-old Stephen Hawking was published online, the University of Cambridge said in a statement.gi
So many readers flocked to paper, posted as part of Cambridge's Open Access Week 2017 that the download was crashing.
"We have had a huge response to Professor Hawking's decision to make his PhD thesis publicly available to download, with 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," a spokesperson for the University of Cambridge wrote to NBC News in an email.
The thesis was made public on Monday. Since then, more than 410,000 people have viewed the repository page where Hawking's thesis is located, the spokesman said.
Those who attempt to view the page might see a gateway timeout or only receive a partial download due to the increased traffic to the university's site.
In "Properties of Expanding Universes," Hawking theorized that the universe had a beginning, according to Cumrun Vafa, the Donner Professor of Science at Harvard's Physics Department.
Vafa, who worked with Hawking in the 1990s, said the significance of the publication won't be felt in the scientific community because the documents have already been widely used, but the influence will be felt elsewhere.
"It has significance for science enthusiasts. This could be historians, students — that aspect of trying to attract enthusiasm to science. That will have an impact," Vafa said. "And that's valuable because we need enthusiasm from students to historians."
Hawking said in a statement that he hopes the publication will do just that.
"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 in a statement.
The school said it made the document available after receiving hundreds of requests from students, who wished to download Hawking's thesis in full. It said the catalog record alone has received hundreds of views every month.
"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!" Hawking said.
Hawking's life was the subject of 2014 film "The Theory of Everything," starring Eddie Redmayne, who won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal.