12 The Earth Moves
In one of his last professional acts before his death in 1955, Albert Einstein wrote a short but glowing foreword to a book by a geologist named Charles Hapgood entitled Earth's Shifting Crust: A Key to Some Basic Problems of Earth Science. Hapgood's book was a steady demolition of the idea that continents were in motion. In a tone that all but invited the reader to join him in a tolerant chuckle, Hapgood observed that a few gullible souls had noticed "an apparent correspondence in shape between certain continents." It would appear, he went on, "that South America might be fitted together with Africa, and so on... It is even claimed that rock formations on opposite sides of the Atlantic match."
Mr. Hapgood briskly dismissed any such notions, noting that the geologists K. E. Caster and J. C. Mendes had done extensive fieldwork on both sides of the Atlantic and had established beyond question that no such similarities existed. Goodness knows what outcrops Messrs. Caster and Mendes had looked at, beacuse in fact many of the rock formations on both sides of the Atlanticare the same—not just very similar but the same.
This was not an idea that flew with Mr. Hapgood, or many other geologists of his day. The theory Hapgood alluded to was one first propounded in 1908 by an amateur American geologist named Frank Bursley Taylor.