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After celebrating his 50th birthday at the remote weather station, Wegener and his companion, Rasmus Villumsen, died on their return trip west to the coast.

The idea of continental drift circulated in scientific circles until World War II, when sounding gear produced new evidence of what the seafloor looked like.

They knew that his ideas, if accurate, would shake the foundations of their discipline.

Wegener was not even a geologist — who was he to overturn their field?

In 1924 Wegener accepted a professorship of meteorology and geophysics at the University of Graz in Austria.

Six years later he led another expedition to Greenland, this time with government backing, where he would set up yearlong weather-monitoring equipment at three stations on the glacier.

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Hess, then in his late thirties, wanted to continue his scientific investigations even while at war.

He also disputed the theory that mountains formed like wrinkles on the skin of a drying apple, claiming instead that mountains formed when the edges of drifting continents crumpled and folded.

Geologists reacted to Wegener’s ideas with widespread scorn.

That enabled Hess to understand his ocean floor profiles in the Pacific.

He realized that the Earth’s crust had been moving away on each side of oceanic ridges, down the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, that were long and volcanically active.

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