Tag Archives | Alfred Wegener

Animated Life: Pangea (The Story of Alfred Wegener)

This animated documentary by Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck tells the story of polar explorer Alfred Wegener, the unlikely scientist behind continental drift theory.

Alfred Wegener.jpg

Alfred Wegener in 1925

Lichtman and Shattuck have written some text to accompany the film at the New York Times:

Just as biology tells us about the origin of life, geology tells how our physical world came to be. The field explains how the mountains and rivers, oceans and shores were born. Surprisingly, one of the first people to propose one of the most important theories in geology, continental drift — the idea that the continents were once pressed together and have since drifted apart — wasn’t a geologist at all.

In this film, we celebrate Alfred Wegener, who studied astronomy, worked as an atmospheric physicist, and seemed happiest exploring Greenland on grueling multiyear expeditions. How did someone with no training in geology come up with a theory that is now central to earth science?

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Nazis Knew About Continental Drift Before Rest of World

Picture: photographer unknown (PD)

The Nazis knew their science, even when they used it for horrible purposes. It’s no secret that America built its atomic weapons program on the backs of Nazi scientists  brought to America as part of Project Paperclip, and now it seems that the Nazis were ahead of the rest of the world in one other area, too: continental drift.

Plate tectonic theory is considered good science these days, but only decades ago it was held in the same regard as stories of the hollow Earth and the history of Atlantis. Most reputable scientists believed that it was all a little kooky. Well, almost everyone except Nazi scientists. The Nazis believed in continental drift, and they believed in its main proponent, a meteorologist and astronomer named Alfred Wegener. Wegener was no expert in geology, and continental drift was kind of his pet theory. In other words, he was a maverick scientist – the “worst” kind of scientist if you ask most establishment experts.… Read the rest

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