, Volume 93, Issue 2, pp 66-71
Date: 02 Feb 2006

A review of the contributions of Albert Einstein to Earth Sciences—in commemoration of the World Year of Physics

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Abstract

The World Year of Physics (2005) is an international celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s “Annus Mirabilis.” The United Nations has officially declared 2005 as the International Year of Physics. However, the impact of Einstein’s ideas was not restricted to physics. Among numerous other disciplines, Einstein also made significant and specific contributions to Earth Sciences. His geosciences-related letters, comments, and scientific articles are dispersed, not easily accessible, and are poorly known. The present review attempts to integrate them as a tribute to Einstein in commemoration of this centenary. These contributions can be classified into three basic areas: geodynamics, geological (planetary) catastrophism, and fluvial geomorphology. Regarding geodynamics, Einstein essentially supported Hapgood’s very controversial theory called Earth Crust Displacement. With respect to geological (planetary) catastrophism, it is shown how the ideas of Einstein about Velikovsky’s proposals evolved from 1946 to 1955. Finally, in relation to fluvial geodynamics, the review incorporates the elegant work in which Einstein explains the formation of meandering rivers. A general analysis of his contributions is also carried out from today’s perspective. Given the interdisciplinarity and implications of Einstein’s achievements to multiple fields of knowledge, we propose that the year 2005 serve, rather than to confine his universal figure within a specific scientific area, to broaden it for a better appreciation of this brilliant scientist in all of his dimensions.