Question: Can you tell me more about Alfred Wegener's theory ?

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  1. As you probably know, Alfred Wegener was a meteorologist that in his way of studying the climate of the past discovered that the distribution of past climate was totally messed up. He started playing with a well known fact, that South-America and Africa’s coastlines fit really well. He end-up into the conclusion that once, all continents were together in what he called “Pangaea”. He was very accurate to say that Pangaea assemblage happened in the Carboniferous (about 300 million years ago!!!), specially knowing that his approach was very rudimentary if compared to our present day laboratories full of expensive gadgets. Later on those continents separated progressively until they formed the world as we know it now. He found support for this hypothesis in fossils and mountain ranges. Now we know a lot about how the keep on moving, it is known as Plate Tectonics. The Plate tectonics theory can explain all those movements into a realistic frame, including not only the drift of continents, but also the formation of oceans, and submarine mountain ranges. We also know that Pangaea was not the only Super-continent (which is the name that geologists give to the continents that amalgamate all landmasses), we know that at least it has been another 2 (Rodinia and Columbia also known as Nuna) and maybe some others.

    The biggest problem that had Wegener was that, in spite of the fact that he was right, he had no idea how the continents moved, he did not know the plate tectonics and did not figure out a solution to that movement. The lack of a valid mechanism for explaining a difficult question as continent motion made that his hypotheses was rejected by the scientific community. This demonstrate that as a scientist it does not matter if you are right or not, the most important thing is to have evidences strong enough to convince your peers, if you cannot convince them, then your hypothesis would be forgotten. You can think that it is unfair, but in a way makes you work harder to really make good science!