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Stranger than Fiction | Matt Kriese

Photo Credit: Bobby Jones

In a world seemingly cursed by the darkest news imaginable, silver linings seem to shine brighter than ever. After the past few weeks, especially with rising gun-related deaths domestically, more concentrated conflict in territories previously dominated by the Islamic State, and sexual harassment scandals, finding these silver linings became gradually more difficult; however, one of the happiest news stories I have read in quite some time graced the internet this week.

During Open Access Week, Cambridge University released Stephen Hawking’s doctoral thesis, “Properties of Expanding Universes” for free and unlimited access to the world for the first time ever. While on the surface this news may seem rather tame, the repercussions of this post were massive. News of this going online caused 60,000 people to download the thesis, crashing Cambridge’s webpage.

News quickly spread to Hawking. “By making my Ph.D. 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. Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and inquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding,” Hawking said.

There have been few moments recently that have inspired me in the way this story did. In the midst of the global madness that I have reported on in some capacity recently, seeing people from all around the world flock to access information that was otherwise unobtainable makes me feel as though I have had the privilege of looking into a more perfect future. This has proven that nobody suffers in the age of information when information is shared equitably and with the interests of progress in mind.

The implications of this are massive. Imagine if school books became 100 percent free because publishers were willing to share PDF formats to universities or if any thesis was published in an easily accessible manner? If the future can provide us with this level of access to information, there’s no telling how quickly mankind can progress into a better tomorrow.

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