Friday, June 25, 2010

Alfred Lothar Wegener

Alfred Lothar Wegener was a German geologist and meteorologist. He is most widely known for his theory of continental drift, which was a theory scorned during his life and many years after his death, but now widely accepted as the truth.


Alfred was born on November 1st, 1880. After attending “the K├Âllnische Gymnasium in his home town”1 he went to what is now Humboldt University in Berlin, and graduated with a degree in astronomy. Although he was quite interested geology and meteorology, he never had a drop of formal education in those subjects. He learned what he did from hiking, skiing, visiting Greenland, and research he conducted himself.

In 1914, Alfred was drafted into the German army, but was released from combat service when he was badly injured. The rest of his time he was drafted into he spent as an army weather forecaster.

Alfred went to Greenland many times. His death occurred partly because of one of these expeditions. He never returned. The summer after his death his body was found under sheets of ice, and reburied elsewhere. Because of the area where he was buried, his body has probably moved several hundreds of feet away from his homeland- continental drift in motion.


Alfred Wegener did quite a few things to make him famous. He was one of the first pioneers in the use of hot air balloons to track air flow. He and his brother, Kurt, stayed up in a hot air balloon for 52 ½ hours, which was the record at that time. And like I mentioned before, he was the first one to suggest the theory of continental drift. “In retrospect, we see that his theory showed remarkable insight, and it was undoubtedly his lack of formal training in geology and paleontology that enabled him to look at the Earth in a somewhat less restricted way than the highly disciplined "academic experts". He was able to take an objective view of all the available evidence and to see how it could all fit together.”2

1Wikipedia; en.wikipedia.org; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Wegener

2http://courses.science.fau.edu/~rjordan/phy1931/WEGENER/wegener.htm

No comments: