A TALE OF TWO SCIENTISTS
Just outside Spokane, WA you will find the Channeled Scablands, a landscape crisscrossed by long channels cut into the bedrock, called coulees. About 150 distinct coulees have been identified with some of them measuring hundreds of feet deep. These bizarre formations puzzled scientists for years.
In the 1920's, geologist J Harlen Bretz published a series of papers postulating that the Scablands were actually created by devastating mega floods, but he couldn't explain where the massive flows of water originated. Others in the field scoffed at the idea of a catastrophic flood event as the cause, preferring to chalk up the landscape's look to gradual erosion, which was the more popular view at the time.
Another geologist by the name of J.T. Pardee, who was working in nearby Montana, thought he had an answer for Bretz upon hearing of his work near Spokane. Seeing a potential connection between his own work at Lake Missoula and and the strange natural features Bretz was studying in Washington, Pardee reached out to him. The combined theory that developed out of these conversations sparked heated debates among the scientific community for years to come.
After several decades of research and analysis, Montana's Lake Missoula was indeed confirmed to be the creator of the Channeled Scablands. The story of Bretz and Pardee illuminates why collaboration is critical for growth and learning, often providing the "secret sauce" that is needed to drive innovation.