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Abstract

The term geophysics seems to have been used first in 1863 (Günther, 1897-1899). In 1887 the journal Beiträge zur Geophysik was founded, and in 1897-1899 Günther's Handbuch der Geophysik was published.

More than 2000 years ago the size of the earth was known roughly, and 100 years ago the size and the degree of flattening were known nearly as well as today. Fifty years ago the determination of latitude was so exact that a periodic displacement of a few yards in the position of the poles was discovered. (See Variation of Latitude.)

For centuries mineralogy was the most widely supported of the geophysical sciences. Fifty years ago there were at least six scientific periodicals devoted expressly to mineralogy (Spencer, 1911). In 1912 came the innovation of the diffraction of X-rays by the crystal lattice.

Governmental interest in exploration, colonial development, and trade lent support to geodesy, meteorology, terrestrial magnetism, and physical oceanography; and, to the last, benefit came from the laying of submarine cables and from public interest in fisheries. A depth chart of the North Atlantic was made in 1854, and the Challenger Deep of 25,450 feet in the Pacific was discovered in 1875 (Murray and Hjort, 1912).

A little more then a century ago storms were known to progress from west to east across the United States and Europe, and for nearly a century the telegraph has been in daily use in weather mapping and forecasting. Since 1872 the problems of the weather have been undertaken on an international scale. (See The Atmosphere.)

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