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Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely

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Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely [#permalink]

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New post 21 Nov 2005, 16:42
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Years before the advent of plate
tectonics―the widely accepted theory,
developed in the mid-1960’s, the holds
that the major features of Earth’s surface
are created by the horizontal motions
of Earth’s outer shell, or lithosphere―
a similar theory was rejected by the
geological community. In 1912, Alfred
Wegener proposed, in a widely debated
theory that came to be called continental
drift, that Earth’s continents were mobile.
To most geologists today, Wegener’s
The origin of Continents and Oceans
appears an impressive and prescient
document, containing several of the
essential presumptions underlying plate
tectonics theory: the horizontal mobility
of pieces of Earth’s crust; the essential
difference between oceanic and conti-
nental crust; and a causal connection
between horizontal displacements and
the formation of mountain chains. Yet
despite the considerable overlap
between Wegener’s concepts and the
later widely embraced plate tectonics
theory, and despite the fact that conti-
nental drift theory presented a possible
solution to the problem of the origin of
mountains at a time when existing expla-
nations were seriously in doubt, in its
day Wegener’s theory was rejected
by the vast majority of geologists.
Most geologists and many historians
today believe that Wegener’s theory
was rejected because of its lack of an
adequate mechanical basis. Stephen
Jay Gould, for example, argues that
continental drift theory was rejected
because it did not explain how continents
could move through an apparently solid
oceanic floor. However, as Anthony
Hallam has pointed out, many scientific
phenomena, such as the ice ages, have
been accepted before they could be fully
explained. The most likely cause for the
rejection of continental drift―a cause
that has been largely ignored because
we consider Wegener’s theory to have
been validated by the theory of plate
tectonics―is the nature of the evidence
that was put forward to support it. Most
of Wegener’s evidence consisted of
homologies—similarities of patterns and
forms based on direct observations of
rocks in the field, supported by the use
of hammers, hand lenses, and field note-
books. In contrast, the data supporting
plate tectonics were impressively
geophysical—instrumental determinations
of the physical properties of Earth gar-
nered through the use of seismographs,
magnetometers, and computers.

Q24:The author cites Hallam (line 42) on the ice ages primarily in order to
A. provide an example of a geologic phenomenon whose precise causes are not fully understood by geologists today
B. criticize the geological community for an apparent lack of consistency in its responses to new theories
C. offer evidence held to undermine a common view of why Wegener’s theory was not accepted in its day
D. give an example of a modern scientist who believes that Wegener’s theory was rejected because it failed to adequately explain the mechanical basis of continental drift
E. support Gould’s rationale for why Wegener’s theory was rejected by most geologists in the early twentieth century

Q25:The author of the passage refers to the “considerable overlapâ€
Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely   [#permalink] 21 Nov 2005, 16:42
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