German scientist, geophysicist, and meteorologist Alfred Wegener published from Gotha, Germany "Die Entstehung der Kontinente" in Mitteilung aus Justus Perthes’ geographischer Anstalt 58 (1912): 185-195; 253-256; 305-309.
Wegener originated the theory of continental drift in this paper on the origin of continents, which he conceived after being struck by the apparent correspondence in the shapes of the coastlines on the west and east sides of the Atlantic, and supported with extensive research on the geological and paleontological correspondences between the two sides. He postulated that 200 million years ago there existed a supercontinent (“Pangaea”), which began to break up during the Mesozoic era due to the cumulative effects of the “Eötvös force,” which drives continents towards the equator, and the tidal attraction of the sun and moon, which drags the earth’s crust westward with respect to its interior. Wegener’s theory attracted little interest until 1919, when he published the second edition of his treatise Die Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane.
Between 1919 and 1928 continental drift was the focus of much controversy and debate. Later the theory fell into obscurity because Wegener’s drift mechanism was shown to be untenable. With the discovery of new paleomagnetic evidence in the 1950s, and especially with the development of plate tectonics in the 1960s, Wegener's theory of continental drift eventually became widely accepted.
Wegener died at the early age of 50 on an arctic expedition at Eismitte in Greenland.
Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine, no. 2192.