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Milutin Milankovic
 

 

Milutin Milanković (Serbian: Милутин Миланковић, pronounced [milǔtin milǎːnkɔʋitɕ]; 28 May 1879 – 12 December 1958) was a Serbian geophysicist and civil engineer, best known for his theory of ice ages, suggesting a relationship between Earth's long-term climate changes and periodic changes in its orbit, now known as Milankovitch cycles. Milanković gave two fundamental contributions to global science. The first contribution is the "Canon of the Earth’s Insolation”, which characterizes the climates of all the planets of the Solar system. The second contribution is the explanation of climate change on the Earth caused by changes in the position of the Earth in comparison to the Sun. This explained the ice ages occurring in the geological past of the Earth, as well as the climate changes on the Earth which can be expected in the future.
Born to Serbian, Orthodox parents in the village of Dalj, Austria-Hungary, today Croatia. He was the eldest of the seven children of a Serbian family of local
merchants and landlords.


At the beginning of 1905, Milanković was employed as an engineer in the construction company of Adolf Baron Pittel Betonbau-Unternehmung in Vienna. In the first year since he got a steady job, Milanković encountered the problem of designing a large warehouse of reinforced concrete. Baron Pittel, owner of companies renowned for concrete construction in Vienna, often entrusted complex construction to this young civil engineer and doctor of technical sciences. Similarly, Milanković was assigned to design a factory, not an easy job. The project was more complex than it would be today because in that time there was no mathematical formula by which to determine the precise dimensions of the reinforcement beams and bearing plates.
Milanković, convinced of the validity of the general theory of elasticity, which he had founded in his doctoral dissertation, worked long and hard on this calculation; it was later published in the scientific magazine entitled "Contribution to the theory of reinforced-concrete beams." Solutions which he is offered in these works attracted the attention of construction engineers, especially designers, and very quickly were incorporated into books and construction manuals. Milanković was the first expert to undertake construction mathematical modeling, leaving geometric (graphic) design methods that were very popular in that time. The result was particularly evident in the extraordinary design of a reinforced-concrete aqueduct for a hydroelectric power plant in Sebeș, in Transylvania, which was Milanković drew at the beginning of his career.
In just five years at Vienna construction companies, Milanković gained a great reputation among engineers, because of the number of objects he designed. In addition to the aqueduct in Sebeș (which resembled the ancient bridges), he designed the aqueducts in Semmering and Piten (now Austria), bridges in Kranj (Slovenia), Banhildi (Hungary), Isla (Austria), and a new Krup metal factory of in Berdorf. As a representative of the mentioned company, he participated in the construction of a collector within the Belgrade sewage system on the banks of the Sava River. In 1908 an Annexation crisis between Austria-Hungary and Serbia erupted. Citizens of Serbian nationality in Austria-Hungary, especially the intellectuals, suffered great pressure from the authoritarian government. Although engineering jobs were making good income for Milanković, he experienced a growing desire to engage in science while undertaking only freelance jobs in civil engineering.
The year 1909 was crucial for Milutin Milankovitć. Milanković was invited by the Philosophical Faculty of Belgrade University to move to Belgrade and become a Professor at the Department for Applied Mathematics, within which were rational and celestial mechanics and theoretical physics. He was elected associate professor. Leaving Vienna, Milutin Milanković maintained friendly ties with numerous Austrian scientists and institutions with which he exchanged scientific information and ideas. Whenever the circumstances permitted, he would take the opportunity to visit Vienna and other places in Austria, to meet friends and collaborators, to participate in the work of important scientific gatherings or to participate in major construction works as a consultant or designer.
Milanković continued design and constructors jobs when he moved to the Kingdom of Serbia and, with engineer Petar Putnik, school friend from the University of Vienna and the owner of a construction company, was retained to design the bridge on the railway line Niš - Knjaževac. His friend's idea was to build for that railway line, for the first time in Serbia, bridges of reinforced concrete, each spanning 30 feet between natural supports on the rocky shores. Milanković liked this idea very much and quickly performed a static calculation that would apply to all bridges, which later was the main reason for the Serbian government to entrust work to the company Petar Putnik in 1912.
Milanković’s scientific work entitled "Contribution to the mathematical theory of climate" on Earth was published in Belgrade on April 5, 1912. Studying the works of the best-known climatologist of that time, Hann, Milanković noticed a significant issue which became one of the major topics of his research. It was the issue of the ice ages. Milanković’s book entitled "The schedule sun radiation on the earth's surface" was published in Belgrade on June 5, 1913.
Next year, in 1914, was published Milanković’s scientific work entitled "About the issue of the astronomical theory of ice agesThroughout his internment in Budapest he devoted his time to a field now known as the Milankovitch cycles and, by the end of the war, he had finished a monograph which was published in 1920, in the publications of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, by Gauthier-Villars in Paris under the title Théorie mathématique des phénomènes thermiques produits par la radiation solaire (Mathematical theory of thermal phenomena caused by solar radiation).
In Budapest he met the Library director of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Koloman von Celia who, since he himself was a great lover of mathematics, arranged for Milanković to perform scientific research at the Central Meteorological Institute. During this two-year appointment for development of mathematical theories related to the prediction of climate change on Mars, he published a scientific work entitled "Researching of the climate planet Mars" in 1916. So while war raged in Europe, Milanković studied the climate on Mars, which aimed to reveal whether organic life on this planet would be possible. His calculation of the amount of insolation and mean annual temperature of the Mars surface and lower layers of the atmosphere was confirmed many decades later, when the first spacecraft to Mars landed. In fact Milankvoć already had laid the foundations in the modeling of climate on Earth and on other planets.
Milanković derived a mathematical formula that can calculate to what extent the ice cover will react to a particular change of solar insolation of the Earth. He managed to establish the mathematical relationship between the summer insolation and the altitude of the border line of snow cover and thus to know how the snow cover will increase as a result of any given change in summer insolation. These results were published in 1938 in a scientific article entitled "New results of the astronomical theory of climate change." In fact with these results modern geologists received a chart from which they could discover the border altitude ice cover (glacial) at any time in the last 650,000 years.
Milanković proposed a Revised Julian calendar circa 1923. It made centennial years (years ending in '00) leap years if division by 900 left a remainder of 200 or 600, unlike the Gregorian rule which required division by 400 to leave no remainder. In May 1923 a congress of some, but not all, Eastern Orthodox Churchs adopted the calendar;  however, only the dropping of 1–13 October 1923 and the revised leap year algorithm were adopted by a number of Eastern Orthodox Churches. The dates of Easter and related holy days are still computed using the Julian calendar. At the time of Milanković's proposal, it was suspected the period of rotation of Earth might not be constant, but it was not until the development of quartz and atomic clocks beginning in the 1930s that this could be proven and quantified.The variation in the period of rotation of Earth is the chief cause of long-term inaccuracy in both the Gregorian and Revised Julian calendars.

 
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