The Expanding Earth

  • Helge Kragh
Part of the Science Networks. Historical Studies book series (SNHS, volume 54)


In the 1960s the once discarded theory of continental drift proposed by Alfred Lothar Wegener was substantially revised and transformed into the modern standard theory of global plate tectonics. For a decade or so the new theory of the Earth and the traditional contraction theory faced competition from a third alternative, the hypothesis of the expanding Earth. As early as 1952 Jordan had suggested Earth expansion on the basis of decreasing gravity, and a few years later the suggestion was taken up by several physicists and earth scientists. Dicke seriously applied his skills in fundamental physics to a broad range of geophysical problems, including a possible increase in the Earth’s radius. The Hungarian geophysicist László Egyed was not only a leading figure in the expansionist alternative but also an advocate of varying gravity as the cause of the growing Earth. Other geologists and geophysicists in favour of the expanding Earth preferred to present their chosen theory in purely empirical terms, without considering the cause of the expansion.


Inner Core Plate Tectonic Gravitational Constant Mantle Convection Continental Drift 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helge Kragh
    • 1
  1. 1.Niels Bohr ArchiveNiels Bohr InstituteCopenhagenDenmark

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