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His premature death, probably from a heart attack brought about by a history of smoking, deprived Alfred Wegener from seeing his theories, especially his theory regarding continental drift, from reaching broad acceptance in the scientific community. Nevertheless, his theories have stood the test of time, and the application of modern technologies have only reconfirmed the accuracy of those theories.
Wegener's death in 1931 preceded the introduction of the computer by many years. That he was able to formulate a theory of continental drift that proved so accurate, and upon which other's have built even stronger cases for the notion that the world once consisted of one huge land mass that broke apart and formed the present-day continents, was testament to his brilliance and perserverence. Had he enjoyed the technological advances that his successors have been able to exploit, not just in computing, but in measuring devises like spectroradiometers and NASA's new Earth-observing microwave radiometer, then Wegener's ability to measure and compute would have provided very solid scientific evidence to support his thesis. In fact, the development of land-observing satellites and the various forms of optics used to cover different areas of the color spectrum have made it possible for scientists to attain better, more accurate data on Earth dynamics. All of these technological advancements would have aided Wegener's efforts considerably. Most important for his legacy, is that none of these advances would have refuted his theory. We now know with absolute certainty that plate tectonics is a fact, that they cause earthquakes, and that they explain Wegener's thesis regarding continental drift.
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