The cycles of revolution: how Wegener and Milanković changed the earth sciences

Aleksandar Petrović, Slobodan B. Marković



The year 1912 is annus mirabilis for Earth sciences. In two crucial papers Alfred Wegener and Milutin Milanković independently set up revolutionary theories based on far-reaching visions of continental drift and climate orbital forcing. Their contributions simultaneously did for the Earth sciences what the theory of evolution did for biology and what the theory of relativity did for physics. They provided Earth sciences with a comprehensive perspective of Earth’s dynamics in both astronomical and terrestrial terms, and revolutionized geology by abandoning the ideas of a climatologically self-sufficient Earth and unmovable continents – remnants of the old geocentric picture of the unmoving, centered Earth. In the secular sense they finally completed the heliocentric theory that was set up by Copernicus. This paper follows the strange synchronicity in their life and work cycles.


Alfred Wegener; Milutin Milanović; Vladimir Köppen, year 1912; astronomical theory of climate change; the origin of continents; heliocentric theory

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