Celebrating 20 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.”
more quiz questions >>
Thumbnail of Thor Heyerdahl (source)
Thor Heyerdahl
(6 Oct 1914 - 18 Apr 2002)

Norwegian ethnologist and adventurer who organized and led the famous Kon-Tiki (28 Apr 1947) and Ra (1969-70) transoceanic raft voyage scientific expeditions.


New York Times Logo 1912

NEW YORK, MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 1947

Kon-Tiki Trip Ends on Pacific Reef;
Party Safe After 4,000-Mile Drift

by Thor Heyerdahl
Leader of the Kon-Tiki Pacific Raft Expedition

North American Newspaper Alliance

RAROIA REEF, Tuamotu Archipelago, Aug. 7 (delayed) — The Kon-Tiki Raft is on the reef here. The six of us who were its crew are safe and unhurt on an uninhabited island.

This marks the conclusion—and, as such, the success—of our expedition that set out April 28 from Peru to drift across the Pacific, as pre-Inca voyagers are believed to have drifted from South America to Polynesia.

In the nearly fifteen weeks we have made the drift of more than 4,000 miles in the flow of the Peruvian (Humboldt) and South Equatorial Currents.

After three days of trying to get around long, low Raroia Reef, a spot in the French Tuamotu Islands at about Latitude 16.30 South and 144.3 West- we finally were drawn right in among the coral rocks. As there was no choice left to us, we directed the raft right into the roaring twenty-five-foot waves that broke in the area. All men were ordered to cling to the basic nine logs that form the body of the raft. When 600 yards from shore, we grounded on a low, half submerged mass of coral. Giant breakers came in and threw us onto other rocks, each a little closer to shore

The balsa-wood raft was taking an awful beating. Our hut was smashed to bits, and our hardwood mast was carried away. The steering oar went, and the cross logs from the stern and the bow.

But the main logs held together, and we all clung to them, hoping for a chance to leap from them to some protruding coral and make our way along them to shore

Finally our chance came. We jumped onto some sharply pointed coral, along which we made our way 500 yards to shore. We are still there, on a tiny uninhabited island.

We have made several trips out to the marooned logs which constitute the remains of our raft, and have rescued most of our equipment. We also have our water and food supplies, and we are sleeping under the large Kin-Tiki sail- now stretched between two trees.

We will try to get the remaining logs into some quiet lagoon near here, and possibly we will be able to find some natives who can help us salvage the remains.

We are all in good condition and feel thankful that we have been able to save such things as food, water and an improvised radio.

Made Landfall on July 30

The Kon-Tiki Raft party reported first sighting land—Pukapuka Island in the Tuamotas—on July 30. It drifted about 260 miles more before hitting Raroia Reef.

The expedition left the port of Callao, Peru, on April 28 with the avowed purpose of testing the theory of its leader, Thor Heyerdahl, 32-year-old ethnologist, that the Pacific islands were originally settled by migrating peoples from prehistoric America.

The fifteen-ton raft was set adrift in the Peruvian (Humboldt) and South Equatorial Currents, which sweep near the Peruvian coast on a swing northward and then westward through the Pacific. The raft was designed to reassemble as closely as possible rafts used by the prehistoric inhabitants of Peru. It was constructed of logs of balsa wood and bamboo lashed together with rope.

The voyage, which involved several encounters with sharks and at least two severe storms, reached the half-way mark of its journey of 4,000 miles on June 11, when it reported a position 108 degrees West, 6 degrees 20 minutes South.

Dr. Heyerdahl was accompanied by five Scandinavian scientists, among them Lieut. Kurt Haugland, formerly of Norway's underground forces, who received the British Distinguished Service Order for his part in sabotaging the heavy-water plant at Rjukan in Norway during the war and took part in campaigns in Arctic Norway.

Other members of the party were Herman Watziner, second in command, who directed the building of the raft; Bengt Danielsson, Swedish sociologist and ethnologist; Erik Hesselberg, navigating officer, and Torstein Raaby, writer, painter and photographer.

Kon-Tiki was the name given to the Sun God by the ancient Peruvians.

From: The New York Times (Mon 11 Aug 1947), 1.


See also:
  • Science Quotes by Thor Heyerdahl.
  • 6 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Heyerdahl's birth.
  • Six Men on a Raft - Editorial from New York Times (12 Aug 1947).
  • 28 Apr 1947 - event description for departure of Kon-Tiki raft from Peru bound for Polynesia.
  • 7 Aug 1947 - event description for arrival of Kon-Tiki raft on Raroia reef.
  • Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft, by Thor Heyerdahl. - book suggestion.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


by Ian Ellis
who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.