UW News

October 26, 2015

UW affiliate prof writes biography about discoverer of continental drift

UW News

Mott Greene, an emeritus professor at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma and an affiliate professor in the UW’s Department of Earth & Space Sciences, has published a biography of Alfred Wegener, the man who laid the foundations for plate tectonics.

Alfred Wegener: Science, Exploration, and the Theory of Continental Drift” was published this month by Johns Hopkins University Press. A recent review in the journal Nature called the book “a magnificent, definitive, and indefatigable tribute to an indefatigable man.”

Hear Greene narrate a short animated video about Wegener and continental drift in the New York Times

The book was two decades in the making. It chronicles “both [Wegener’s] passionate commitment to science and his thrilling experiences as a polar explorer, a military officer during World War I, and a world record-setting balloonist,” notes say.

The story also chronicles Wegener’s ongoing struggles to have his new ideas accepted by the mainstream scientific community. Fittingly enough, Greene is currently co-teaching a fall UW class on “Great Geological Issues.”

Greene was one of the first UW alumni to win a MacArthur Fellowship, which he received in 1983 for his work as a historian of science. He focuses on the history of Earth sciences, and has previously written books on the history of geology in the 19th century, and on science in the ancient world.


For more information, contact Greene at 206-225-0530 or mgreene@uw.edu.