Paramount Pictures is founded.
The German geophysicist Alfred Wegener first describes his theory of continental drift.
article is about the development of the continental drift hypothesis before 1958. For the contemporary theory, see plate tectonics. For the Russell Banks novel, see Continental Drift. For the fourth film in the Ice Age franchise, see Ice Age: Continental Drift.
The continental drift of the last 250 million years
Antonio Snider-Pellegrini’s Illustration of the closed and opened Atlantic Ocean.
Continental drift is the theory that the Earth’s continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have “drifted” across the ocean bed. The speculation that continents might have ‘drifted’ was first put forward by Abraham Ortelius in 1596. The concept was independently and more fully developed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, but his theory was rejected by many for lack of any motive mechanism. Arthur Holmes later proposed mantle convection for that mechanism. The idea of continental drift has since been subsumed by the theory of plate tectonics, which explains that the continents move by riding on plates of the Earth’s lithosphere.
Abraham Ortelius, Theodor Christoph Lilienthal, Alexander von Humboldt, Antonio Snider-Pellegrini, and others had noted earlier that the shapes of continents on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean seem to fit together. W. J. Kious described Ortelius’ thoughts in this way:
Abraham Ortelius in his work Thesaurus Geographicus … suggested that the Americas were “torn away from Europe and Africa … by earthquakes and floods” and went on to say: “The vestiges of the rupture reveal themselves if someone brings forward a map of the world and considers carefully the coasts of the three.”
In 1889, Alfred Russel Wallace remarked, “It was formerly a very general belief, even amongst geologists, that the great features of the earth’s surface, no less than the smaller ones, were subject to continual mutations, and that during the course of known geological time the continents and great oceans had, again and again, changed places with each other.” He quotes Charles Lyell as saying, “Continents, therefore, although permanent for whole geological epochs, shift their positions entirely in the course of ages.” and claims that the first to throw doubt on this was James Dwight Dana in 1849.
In his Manual of Geology, Dana wrote, “The continents and oceans had their general outline or form defined in earliest time. This has been proved with respect to North America from the position and distribution of the first beds of the Silurian – those of the Potsdam epoch. … and this will probably prove to the case in Primordial time with the other continents also”. Dana was enormously influential in America – his Manual of Mineralogy is still in print in revised form – and the theory became known as Permanence theory.
This appeared to be confirmed by the exploration of the deep sea beds conducted by the Challenger expedition, 1872-6, which showed that contrary to expectation, land debris brought down by rivers to the ocean is deposited comparatively close to the shore on what is now known as the continental shelf. This suggested that the oceans were a permanent feature of the Earth’s surface, and did not change places with the continents.
Apart from the earlier speculations mentioned in the previous section, the idea that the American continents had once formed a single landmass together with Europe and Asia before assuming their present shapes and positions was speculated by several scientists before Alfred Wegener’s 1912 paper. Although Wegener’s theory was formed independently and was more complete than those of his predecessors, Wegener later credited a number of past authors with similar ideas: Franklin Coxworthy, Roberto Mantovani, William Henry Pickering and Frank Bursley Taylor. In addition, Eduard Suess had proposed a supercontinent Gondwana in 1885 and the Tethys Ocean in 1893, assuming a land-bridge between the present continents submerged in the form of a geosyncline, and John Perry had written an 1895 paper proposing that the earth’s interior was fluid, and disagreeing with Lord Kelvin on the age of the earth.
For example: the similarity of southern continent geological formations had led Roberto Mantovani to conjecture in 1889 and 1909 that all the continents had once been joined into a supercontinent; Wegener noted the similarity of Mantovani’s and his own maps of the former positions of the southern continents. In Mantovani’s conjecture, this continent broke due to volcanic activity caused by thermal expansion, and the new continents drifted away from each other because of further expansion of the rip-zones, where the oceans now lie. This led Mantovani to propose an Expanding Earth theory which has since been shown to be incorrect.
Continental drift without expansion was proposed by Frank Bursley Taylor, who suggested in 1908 that the continents were moved into their present positions by a process of “continental creep”. In a later paper he proposed that this occurred by their being dragged towards the equator by tidal forces during the hypothesized capture of the moon in the Cretaceous, resulting in “general crustal creep” toward the equator. Although his proposed mechanism was wrong, he was the first to realize the insight that one of the effects of continental motion would be the formation of mountains, and attributed the formation of the Himalayas to the collision between the Indian subcontinent with Asia. Wegener said that of all those theories, Taylor’s, although not fully developed, had the most similarities to his own. In the mid-20th century, the theory of continental drift was referred to as the “Taylor-Wegener hypothesis”, although this terminology eventually fell out of common use.
Alfred Wegener first presented his hypothesis to the German Geological Society on 6 January 1912. His hypothesis was that the continents had once formed a single landmass, called Pangaea, before breaking apart and drifting to their present locations.
Wegener was the first to use the phrase “continental drift” and formally publish the hypothesis that the continents had somehow “drifted” apart. Although he presented much evidence for continental drift, he was unable to provide a convincing explanation for the physical processes which might have caused this drift. His suggestion that the continents had been pulled apart by the centrifugal pseudoforce of the Earth’s rotation or by a small component of astronomical precession was rejected, as calculations showed that the force was not sufficient. The Polflucht hypothesis was also studied by Paul Sophus Epstein in 1920 and found to be implausible.
The theory of continental drift was not accepted for many years. One problem was that a plausible driving force was missing. A second problem was that Wegener’s estimate of the velocity of continental motion, 250 cm/year, was implausibly high. It also did not help that Wegener was not a geologist. Other geologists also believed that the evidence that Wegener had provided was not sufficient. It is now accepted that the plates carrying the continents do move across the Earth’s surface, although not as fast as Wegener believed; ironically one of the chief outstanding questions is the one Wegener failed to resolve: what is the nature of the forces propelling the plates?
The British geologist Arthur Holmes championed the theory of continental drift at a time when it was deeply unfashionable. He proposed in 1931 that the Earth’s mantle contained convection cells which dissipated radioactive heat and moved the crust at the surface. His Principles of Physical Geology, ending with a chapter on continental drift, was published in 1944.
Geological maps of the time showed huge land bridges spanning the Atlantic and Indian oceans to account for the similarities of fauna and flora and the divisions of the Asian continent in the Permian era but failing to account for glaciation in India, Australia and South Africa.
Geophysicist Jack Oliver is credited with providing seismologic evidence supporting plate tectonics which encompassed and superseded continental drift with the article “Seismology and the New Global Tectonics”, published in 1968, using data collected from seismologic stations, including those he set up in the South Pacific.
It is now known that there are two kinds of crust: continental crust and oceanic crust. Continental crust is inherently lighter and its composition is different from oceanic crust, but both kinds reside above a much deeper “plastic” mantle. Oceanic crust is created at spreading centers, and this, along with subduction, drives the system of plates in a chaotic manner, resulting in continuous orogeny and areas of isostatic imbalance. The theory of plate tectonics explains all this, including the movement of the continents, better than Wegener’s theory.
Arthur Eldred is awarded the first Eagle Scout award of the Boy Scouts of America.
Arthur Rose Eldred August 16, 1895 – January 4, 1951 was an American agricultural and railroad industry executive, civic leader, and the first Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. As a 16-year-old candidate for the highest rank bestowed by the BSA, he was personally interviewed by a panel composed of the youth organization’s founding luminaries, including Ernest Thompson Seton and Daniel Carter Beard. Eldred was awarded the coveted distinction of Eagle Scout on September 2, 1912, becoming the first of more than two million boys in the U.S. since then to earn Scouting’s most vaunted rank. Eldred also received the Bronze Honor Medal for lifesaving, and was the first of four generations of Eagle Scouts in his family.
A graduate of Cornell University, Eldred enlisted at age 22 in the United States Navy in January 1918, nine months after the U.S. entry into World War I. After serving aboard various Navy vessels and seeing combat in that conflict, he then worked in the agriculture and produce transportation industries, serving as a railroad industry official. Eldred continued as an active Scout leader and school board member throughout much of his adult life.
Eldred was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Oceanside, Long Island, New York by his mother after his father died. Eldred’s older brother, Hubert W. Eldred, was instrumental in starting Troop 1 of Oceanside, Long Island, New York in November 1910. Troop 1 was fully uniformed and their appearance so impressed Chief Scout Executive James E. West that he asked the troop to serve as honor guard for the visit of Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. West paid the expenses for the troop to travel to New York harbor for Baden-Powell’s arrival in the morning of January 31, 1912. Baden-Powell inspected Troop 1, and spoke with Eldred at some length. It is uncertain how Baden-Powell found out that Eldred’s Board of Review was that afternoon, but he ended up attending it and being part of the Board of Review.
In March 1911, Eldred earned First Class rank. He subsequently completed the 21 merit badges required for Eagle Scout. Merit badges are awards for mastering skills taught in the Scouting program. At the time, only 141 merit badges had then been earned by about 50 Scouts. As originally implemented, Eagle Scout was part of the merit badge system and was not a rank. Thus Eldred, like several of the early Eagles, did not earn the Life or Star awards that later preceded Eagle Scout. Eldred’s merit badges were noted in the Honor Roll of the August 1912 edition of Boys’ Life.
Eldred did not have a troop board of review, a review by the adult troop leaders to ensure eligibility. Instead, Eldred had a thorough National Board of Review consisting of West, Baden-Powell, Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter Beard, Arthur R. Forbush, and Wilbert E. Longfellow, who wrote in the Handbook for Boys on life-saving and swimming. At the time there had still not been a council-level system for Eagle Scouts boards of review. Largely due to delays caused by Baden-Powell’s visit, the National Court of Honor did not convene until March 29, 1912. A press announcement was released on or about April 10, 1912, leading to a century of confusion wherein it was believed Eldred’s Board of Review had been held in April. West informed Eldred of his Eagle award in a letter dated August 21, 1912. Another reason for the delays was that the Boy Scouts of America felt no one would ever earn the Eagle Scout award and at the time of Eldred’s Board of Review, the Eagle Scout medal had not yet been designed. This letter also informed Eldred of the delay in the medal, caused by the fact that the design of the Eagle Scout medal had not been finalized. Eldred was presented Eagle Scout on Labor Day, September 2, 1912, becoming the first to earn Scouting’s highest rank, just two years after the founding of the BSA itself.
In August 1912, Eldred was camping with the troop in Orange Lake, New York. While swimming in the lake, fifteen-year-old Melvin Daly, another Scout who was a non-swimmer, began to drown. Eldred rescued Daly with the assistance of Merritt Cutler. Chief Scout Seton presented Eldred with the Honor Medal for this action.
Eldred entered Cornell University in 1912 and graduated in 1916 having studied agriculture. At the university, Eldred was a member of the Alpha Zeta fraternity, president of the Agricultural Association and participated in track and cross-country.
Eldred enlisted in the United States Navy in January 1918, during World War I. He was initially assigned to the Philadelphia Naval Yard before shipping out on the transport USS Henderson on Sunday, June 30, 1918 from Bush Terminal in Brooklyn, New York for overseas duty. On July 1, 1918 his convoy spotted two enemy submarines and attacked them with depth charges. It is not known whether the submarines were damaged. During the Henderson’s seventh troop transport voyage to France there was a fire on board on July 2, 1918, that resulted in the ship returning to the United States. All but one or two of those on board were rescued by the destroyers USS Mayrant and USS Paul Jones and eventually taken aboard the USS Von Steuben ID-3017, which continued to Brest, France, where Eldred’s knowledge of French proved useful. From there, he was sent by train to Italy.
Eldred arrived in Italy in July 1918 and eventually at Sub Chaser Base 25, located in Corfu, Greece in September 1918. There he served as a machinist aboard submarine chaser SC-244, where they patrolled the Strait of Otranto and were engaged in combat. While in Corfu, Eldred and many others got sick with the flu during the 1918 flu pandemic. The conditions at the hospital were so bad that he had to crawl to a stream to get water, which resulted in a permanent scar on his left hip. Eldred began his return to the United States and arrived in Malta on December 25, 1918. By February 1919, he was in Gibraltar. He was given the option of staying in the Navy until they arrived home in six months or being discharged and paying his own way home. He elected the discharge and was separated from the Navy on March 4, 1919. He met some U.S. Army soldiers who were en route to America aboard an Army troop ship. They took him aboard as a stowaway and loaned him an Army uniform. Eldred slept in a life boat on the way back to America.
After the war, Eldred worked for a dairy, then became the agricultural agent for Atlantic County, New Jersey in 1921 and established the Atlantic City municipal market. He later promoted produce transportation for the Reading Railroad. As the trucking industry became a major competitor for the carriage of agricultural products, Eldred became the manager of the Eastern Railroad Association’s Motor Carrier Committee. He also served on the Camden County Council, the Clementon School District Board of Education, and also served as Overbrook Regional school board president.
Eldred was a board of review examiner throughout the 1920s. He was later the troop committee chairman for Troop 77 in Clementon, New Jersey. Eldred’s descendants have followed in his footsteps. Eldred was present when his eldest son, Willard “Bill” G. Eldred, had his Eagle Scout ceremony on October 27, 1944. Eldred also had a younger son, Arthur, and one daughter, Patricia. Two of Eldred’s grandsons are also Eagle Scouts: James I. Hudson III 1968 and Willard “Bill” Eldred 1977. Four of his great-grandsons, Kyle Kern, Tyler Eldred, Tennessee Abbott, and Bobby Hitte, were Scouts as of March 2007, working towards Eagle Scout. Tyler Eldred and Kyle Kern did not make Eagle Scout and were no longer in Scouting as youths by July 2009. Tennessee Abbott had his Eagle Scout ceremony on May 2, 2010. Bobby Hitte became an Eagle Scout in 2012, 100 years after Arthur and another Eldred descendant, Jack Eldred, had joined Scouting.
Eldred died at the age of 55 from colon cancer on January 4, 1951 at his home in Clementon. He is buried in Berlin Cemetery, Berlin, New Jersey. The National Eagle Scout Association chapter of the BSA’s Theodore Roosevelt Council in Massapequa, New York is named in honor of Eldred. In October 1976 the Village of Rockville Centre, New York honored Arthur Eldred by dedicating Eagle Scout Park in the village in his memory. The ceremony was attended by his widow, son Bill and grandsons.
Paramount Pictures is founded.
Paramount Pictures Corporation also known simply as Paramount is an American film studio based in Hollywood, California, that has been a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, and the sole member of the “Big Six” film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood.
In 1916, film producer Adolph Zukor put 22 actors and actresses under contract and honored each with a star on the logo. These fortunate few would become the first “movie stars.” In 2014, Paramount Pictures became the first major Hollywood studio to distribute all of its films in digital form only. The company’s headquarters and studios are located at 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, California, United States.
Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world after the French studios Gaumont Film Company and Pathé, followed by the Nordisk Film company, and Universal Studios. It is the last major film studio still headquartered in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.
Paramount Pictures dates its existence from the 1912 founding date of the Famous Players Film Company. Hungarian-born founder Adolph Zukor, who had been an early investor in nickelodeons, saw that movies appealed mainly to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohman and Charles Frohman he planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time leading to the slogan “Famous Players in Famous Plays”. By mid-1913, Famous Players had completed five films, and Zukor was on his way to success. Its first film was Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth, which starred Sarah Bernhardt.
That same year, another aspiring producer, Jesse L. Lasky, opened his Lasky Feature Play Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish, later known as Samuel Goldwyn. The Lasky company hired as their first employee a stage director with virtually no film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first feature film, The Squaw Man.
Paramount Pictures’ first logo, based on a design by its founder William Wadsworth Hodkinson, used from 1917 to 1967. Starting in 1914, both Lasky and Famous Players released their films through a start-up company, Paramount Pictures Corporation, organized early that year by a Utah theatre owner, W. W. Hodkinson, who had bought and merged several smaller firms. Hodkinson and actor, director, producer Hobart Bosworth had started production of a series of Jack London movies. Paramount was the first successful nationwide distributor; until this time, films were sold on a statewide or regional basis which had proved costly to film producers. Also, Famous Players and Lasky were privately owned while Paramount was a corporation.
The International Opium Convention is signed at The Hague.
On 23 January 1912, the International Opium Convention was signed in the Hague by representatives from China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Persia (Iran), Portugal, Russia, Siam (Thailand), the UK and the British oversees territories (including British India). Three years later, it entered into force in five countries. The Convention gained, however, near-universal adherence after 1919 when all the countries signing the Peace Treaties of Versailles, St. Germain-en-Laye etc. also became party to the International Opium Convention. Thus by the mid 1920s close to 60 countries had – de jure – signed and ratified the Hague treaty and this number increased to 67 by 1949.
The International Opium convention consisted of six chapters and 25 articles. In addition to opium and morphine, which were already under extensive international discussion, the Hague Convention also included two new substances that had become problematic: cocaine and heroin.
Cocaine was first isolated by the German chemist Albert Niemann in 1860, and rapidly gained popularity for both medical and recreational use. Heroin was a relatively new drug at the time of the Hague Convention, as it had only become available as a pharmaceutical product in 1898. Ironically, it was originally marketed as a non-addictive alternative to morphine, which was proving problematic in many areas.
The 1912 Convention was far from perfect, but it contained many elements of a comprehensive drug control treaty. Moreover, as an official declaration on the dangerous practices of opium smoking and the non-medical trade in opium and other drugs, it had value as an advocacy tool. It also inspired national drug control legislation, such as the 1913 Harrison Act in the United States, the foundation of U.S. drug law in the 20th century.
Paramount Pictures is established.
Paramount Pictures Corp. was established in 1914 by W.W. Hodkinson as a film distributor, offering Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Film Company, the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, and other producers an outlet for their movies. In 1916 Zukor and Lasky merged their companies to form the Famous Players–Lasky Corporation and acquired Paramount to distribute their films. The new company, which continued to use the name Paramount as well, quickly rose to prominence by featuring such popular stars as Mary Pickford, Fatty Arbuckle, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, and Rudolph Valentino. Its early hits included the first “big western,” The Covered Wagon (1923), and The Ten Commandments (1923), a biblical epic directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
In the late 1920s and ’30s the studio added to its roster such stars as Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, W.C. Fields, and Bing Crosby and such directors as Ernst Lubitsch, Josef von Sternberg, and Rouben Mamoulian. Although it continued to produce films that were artistically and financially successful, it suffered losses from its chain of theatres during the transition to sound, and Paramount was declared bankrupt in 1933. It was reorganized two years later as Paramount Pictures, Inc., and was soon profitable again. However, it suffered a setback in 1948 when the Supreme Court ruled that seven movie studios, including Paramount, were in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act by controlling both movie distribution and exhibition. As a result, the studios were forced to sell their theatres. No longer able to dictate where and when films would be played, Paramount and other studios began to make fewer—though more expensive—movies.
Albania declares its independence from the Ottoman Empire.
On November 28, 1912 Albanian nationalist leader Ismail Qemal, an Ottoman civil servant who rose to the position of President of the Ottoman National Assembly in Istanbul in 1909, returned to Albania with Austro-Hungarian support and at the head of a swiftly convened national assembly declared Albanian independence in the town of Vlora. The chairman, Ismail Kemal Bey, stated that although they had always been faithful to the Ottoman Empire, the Albanians had never forgotten their own language and nationality. The declaration, in Albanian and Turkish read:
“In Vlora, on the 15th/28th of November. Following the speech made by the President, Ismail Kemal Bey, in which he spoke of the great perils facing Albania today, the delegates have all decided unanimously that Albania, as of today, should be on her own, free and independent.”
This signaled the end of almost 500 years of Ottoman rule in Albania. The leaders raised the flag on the balcony of the two-story building in Vlora where the Declaration of Independence had just been signed.
The Bull Moose Party meets for the first time.
Universal Pictures is incorporated.
The Royal Flying Corps, which later became the Royal Air Force, is established in the United Kingdom.