The hypothesis that the present distribution of the continents is due to the breaking up and drifting apart of the fragments of a single continent was first put forward in 1912. However, largely because of the First World War and the extreme antipathy to German science and scientists that followed it, the hypothesis remained not only unaccepted but almost unknown for many years in the former allied countries such as Britain and America. I first heard of it in 1923 from an American physicist at Oxford, M.W. Garrett, who had just returned from a visit to Germany, though I do not know whether it was there that he had heard of it.

I at once became convinced of its validity. I considered that the near congruence of the coasts of Africa and South America could not be due to chance but could be explained only by the breakup of a...

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