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The United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared 2005 the “World Year of Physics” in celebration of the centennial of Einstein's annus mirabilis when, as junior clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in Berne, he published three papers that changed physics forever by (1) introducing Special Relativity and demonstrating the equivalence of mass and energy (E = mc2), (2) explaining the photoelectric effect with Planck's then-still-new-and-controversial concept of light quanta (E = hv), and (3) investigating the macroscopic phenomenon of Brownian motion using Boltzmann's molecular dynamics (E = kT), still far from fully accepted at the time.

The celebration of Einstein's work in physics inspires the reflection on the status of geophysics and its relationship with physics, in particular with respect to great discoveries.