“Doesn’t the east coast of South America fit exactly against the west coast of Africa, as if they had once been joined?” wrote Wegener to his future wife in December 1910. “This is an idea I’ll have to pursue.”
It is just as if we were to refit the torn pieces of a newspaper by matching their edges and then check whether the lines of print ran smoothly across. If they do, there is nothing left but to conclude that the pieces were in fact joined in this way.
Meteorologist Alfred Wegener proposed his theory of Continental Drift in 1915. Everything about the theory was obviously correct, which is exactly why he was met with decades of rage and denial by the expert scientific community.
“Utter, damned rot!” said the president of the prestigious American Philosophical Society.
“If we are to believe [this] hypothesis, we must forget everything we have learned in the last 70 years and start all over again,” said another American scientist.
Anyone who “valued his reputation for scientific sanity” would never dare support such a theory, said a British geologist.
He couldn’t get a job as a professor in Germany because of his heresy. The body of experts couldn’t believe that continents moved, even though they saw it happening all the time. During the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the land moved as much as 20 feet.
Fifteen years after he proposed his theory, Wegener froze to death exploring the Greenland Ice Sheet – and a few decades later the clueless body of experts accepted his painfully obvious theory.