I believe in a previous post I commented about controversial science topics and creationism, or something to that effect. I went to a Catholic school for elementary school and in my textbooks, we studied about Pangaea. When we did learn about it, my textbook danced around the subject saying that the idea of Pangaea was a controversial topic not supported by religion and still needed further research. I thought that not many people knew what Pangaea was except a couple weeks ago when a friend said a chocolate cake I had made looked like Pangaea (is that a compliment? I’m not so sure…). From what I can find online, the idea has been debated but only until recently acknowledged as a legitimate theory. For those of you who have seen an Inconvenient Truth, Gore told a story about a friend of his who in grade school asked if South America had at one time fit into Africa. Under this theory of a super continent, South American did fit into Africa and the other continents that we know of today, had drifted apart from the super continent. I did interestingly find in an article from Science Daily published in August of last year (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080822093722.htm) that stated the possibility that Pangaea may be only the latest of many super continents. According to the author, Pangaea was formed about 300 million years ago and began to break into the pieces as we know them today about 200 million years ago.
There are so many topics in science that are controversial. Rachel Carson created a stir in her assertion of DDT and other pesticides being harmful to the environment. Galileo was heavily criticized for his ideas on astronomy. The ever famous Darwin received much criticism for his ideas of evolution. These ideas seemed to always conflict with ideas of religion, in the case of Darwin or Galileo or conflict with business, in terms of Carson, or other institutions such as governments. However, these ideas and theories are very central to ideas of how science works. Many geologists would probably agree that there was a central continent from which our continents came from, most biologists would at least acknowledge evolution as a part of science if it was not what they religiously believed. I also think that most would agree that the moon travels around the earth and that the earth travels around the sun. The most recent of the above mentioned theories, I believe that most environmental scientists would also agree that many chemicals and most pesticides have detrimental effects, or at least pesticides used during the time of the DDT debate. These ideas are many scientists basic assumptions on the outlook of the world.
Just my $.02 about these theories. I have a bad habit of assuming that most people have the same outlook that I do about science but I have also found that that is not always the case. In any case, I do believe that some of the fundamental theories of science become subject to major controversy.