Continental Drift

Alfred Wegener was born in 1880 in Germany. He was a versatile science student with interests in physics, meteorology, and astronomy. He earned a Ph.D. in astronomy.

Alfred and his brother had an interest in the weather patterns in Polar Regions. He made frequent trips to unexplored areas which were inhospitable.

As Alfred continued with his explorations, he was struck that the major land masses had a resemblance to a jig saw puzzle. His curiosity was also stimulated when he found similar fossils in areas that could fit together in his puzzles.

Alfred proposed that over time continents drifted apart. He had a lot of observations to support his theory. Most geologists rejected his theory, largely because he was not a geologist. He passed away in 1930 knowing that his theory was rejected by most scientists.

In the 1950s, advances in science began to develop data to support Alfred’s theory. By the 1960s, Alfred was acknowledged as the founder of one of the major scientific discoveries of the 20th century. In 1993, GPS technology made it possible to actually measure the continental drift directly.

Many beginnings face considerable skepticism at first. It’s surprising how resilient the science community is to accept new ideas. In fact, many of the most significant breakthroughs in science have come from those whose pedigree is under doubt by the “old guard” of the science world. But it’s hard to imagine the personal doubt that Alfred Wegener faced in his life from the scorn he faced from those who ridiculed his beliefs. But yet he continued on, and we now have a better understanding of the world we live in.

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            “A prophetic madman is at least amusing; a superannuated fuddy-duddy is merely pitiful.” –  Stephen Joy Gould (Scientist)

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