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Genesis of a geophysical icon; the Bullard, Everett and Smith reconstruction of the circum-Atlantic continents


, : Genesis of a geophysical icon; the Bullard, Everett and Smith reconstruction of the circum-Atlantic continents. Earth Sciences History 27(1): 1-11

The first computer fit of the continents had its origins in a controversy over Warren Carey's visual fit between South America and Africa. Sir Harold Jeffreys denied that there was a fit, but Sir Edward Bullard considered the fit to be impressive. Bullard suggested quantifying the fit to Jim Everett, a graduate student at the time. Everett did so, developing his own method from his mathematical background, and computed the fit for the South Atlantic. Alan Smith, then a research assistant, used his geological knowledge and worked with Everett to fit together all the circum-Atlantic continents. Thus Bullard had the idea of quantifying the fit, and Everett and Smith implemented it. Then Smith extended the method to fits beyond the Atlantic. The outcome owed much to Bullard's leadership, and to the lively and open discussions that prevailed during coffee and tea at Madingley Rise, which housed the Department of Geodesy and Geophysics of the University of Cambridge at that time.

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