The Shaping of Land Mass Essay

Submitted By onesmartbell
Words: 2544
Pages: 11

Abstract

Wegener observed that the continents fit together like a puzzle. His theory was correct, but technology had not yet advanced to the point that Wegener could use the scientific method to prove his Continental Drift theory, which states that land mass is moved, via the tectonic plates. There are three types of plate boundaries moving the plates; divergent, convergent and transform. These move the plates in various directions causing the continents to form valleys, mountains, volcanos, islands, hot spots, and earthquakes.
Another way to shape the landscape is through human interference. Man’s search for the nonrenewable resource, coal, has led him to dig into the mountaintops of the Appalachian Mountains. This, in turn, has led to adverse consequences in the mountain stream ecosystem.
Science asks the questions why, and how can a given situation be improved. Science notices everyday problems and strives, through the scientific method, to solve them to improve health, gain conveniences in life, and preserve of our world’s ecosystems. Scientists often build on each other’s discoveries, and it may take decades until their theories are proven. Nevertheless, all of mankind benefits from the inquisitive perseverance of the scientist.

Phase 5 Individual Project The first recorded person to consider the movement of the continents was Francis Bacon, in 1620. He observed, from looking at maps, that the continents could be pieced together like a large puzzle.
But the theory of the continental drift was first proposed, in 1912, by German meteorologist, Alfred Wegener. “Wegener's theory states that 250 million years ago, the land that makes up our continents (North and South America, Antarctica, Africa, Australia, Asia and Europe) was once one great land mass, or supercontinent, which he called Pangaea, meaning "all Earth." During the Jurassic Period, the great land mass was broken apart by the spreading of the Earth's sea floor. If you look at Pangaea, you can see that the continents fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle, and that New Jersey actually touches North Africa” (Williams, 2007). These theories conflicted greatly with the current theories in geology science, and were rejected for three main reasons.
The first reason was that Wegener was not a geologist. He actually gained a Ph.D. in astronomy, from the University of Berlin, in 1905. He focused on astronomy, meteorology and climatology throughout his lifetime. But because his degree was not in geology, his studies and theories, in that field, were not thought to be of any value.
The second reason that his theory was rejected was that he could not provide quantitative evidence to prove his theory- only qualitative. Qualitative evidence uses generalizations. It does not specify a particular amount or a definite number. Quantitative evidence is easier to interpret, makes a stronger case and is more precise. It is specific; like, how many years did it take the event to occur, or what is the age of the fossil. It uses numbers to be more specific. “Most scientific investigations start with a qualitative study, which may last months; then move to a quantitative study, that may take more equipment, time and resources” (Nemmers, 2013).
The third reason that Wegener’s theory was rejected was that he could not provide a mechanism proving how the tectonic plates moved. The proposals that he presented were proven to be flawed, as the geological community quickly reputed them with mathematical confirmations.
To prove a new theory, scientific evidence, using the scientific method, must be presented. The scientific method consists of “identifying the problem to solve, formulating a tentative answer or hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, gathering and analyzing data, and making conclusions” (scientific method, 2008). “All experiments must also be controlled and held constant except the one element that is being tested” (Nemmers, 2013). For…