Ott Christoph Hilgenberg in twentieth-century geophysics
|Title||Ott Christoph Hilgenberg in twentieth-century geophysics|
|No. of pages||17|
The main points of the life and scientific production of Ott Christoph Hilgenberg (1896-1976) have been reconstructed. The events took place between America and Berlin: in America from 1925 to 1928 the young Hilgenberg, with a diploma in Mechanical Engineering, worked as a Geophysicist in an oil prospecting company. It was there that he probably developed his interdisciplinary ideas, which, influenced in various ways by the European cultural climate, brought him into the field of global tectonics. He conceived a theory about the expansion of the Earth based on the nature of the gravity field. In 1933, the theory was published in his classic work Vom wachsenden Erdball. Upon his return in Germany he performed various types of research at the School of Engineering, then that of Geology and Paleontology at the Technical University of Berlin. He was also briefly involved as editor of the scientific publications at the Technical University of Berlin, where he made a contribution towards saving the book collection as the war ended. During the years spent in Berlin, he continued to refine his elegant version of the theory of Earth’s expansion publishing articles and books on this subject up to the last years in his life. The importance of Hilgenberg lies in the fact that he marks the beginning of the integration of various scientific disciplines from Physics to Paleontology and Paleomagnetism, in support of a universal tectonic theory, and that he made paleogeographic reconstructions on globes with smaller radii than the present one. All those who have worked or are working with one of the versions of expansion tectonics owe him enormous gratitude for his inspiration and for the scientific and moral lesson of fifty years spent in unflagging defence of his ideas. The material gathered and kindly made available by his daughter Helge has been indispensable for this recalling.