The Life of Alfred Wegener
Alfred was born in Germany in 1880 and led a very busy life. He received a PhD in astronomy but quickly moved on to meteorology. He and his brother experimented with kites and balloons. They set a record flying a balloon during his first expedition to Greenland in 1906 (PBS, 1998, para. 2). Alfred taught meteorology and published his first book in 1911 titled “Thermodynamics of the Atmosphere”.
While looking at his friend’s atlas in 1910 Alfred noticed that the coastlines of the Brazil and West Africa looked as though they fit together (Conniff, 2012, para. 4). This thought did not leave his mind and he continued to research the idea. Wegener cut out the pictures of the maps and pieced them together like a puzzle. He located evidence of similar plants, animals, and other species on the Australian and South American continents to support his hypothesis.
In 1912 he first introduced the theory of the continental drift at a conference in Germany. He theorized that the continents had moved away from each other over a period of time and denied that land-bridges had existed to connect the continents. The same year he married the daughter of a meteorologist and returned on another expedition to Greenland. He went on to serve in the military during World War I. Although the idea about the continental drift had neve...
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...s are fit together it indicates they were once connected. Over a period of time the continents drifted apart. This is referred to as the continental drift.
It is unfortunate that the continental drift theory was not accepted during Wegener’s lifetime. Though his explanations for his hypothesis could not be substantiated at the time his theory was correct. It was some thirty years later before modern technology was used to begin testing and evidence was found to support Wegener’s theory.
Conniff, R. (2012). When the earth moved. Smithsonian, 43(3), 36-38.
Healey, C. (2006). Alfred wegener. Alfred Wegener, 1-3.
Lutgens, F. & Tarbuck, E. (2014) Foundations of earth science. (7th ed.) Upper Saddle River,
NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
PBS. (1998) People and discoveries. Retrieved from:
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