Winston Churchill Mused 'Are We Alone In The Universe?' Reveals Lost Essay
Winston Churchill is best known as the wartime leader of Britain. However his affinity for science was also not under wraps. Even while Britain was on the brink of World War II, Churchill found time to draft an 11-page science essay, where he ponders on the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
The draft initially titled "Are We Alone in the Space?" was written perhaps for London-based newspaper News of the World in 1939, just before the World War II.
The draft was not published at the time and Churchill revised it slightly to incorporate updated scientific understanding and terminology in 1950. He also changed the title to "Are We Alone In The Universe?"
However, the manuscript never saw the light of day and was passed to the U.S. National Churchill Museum archives in the 1980s by the publisher's wife. There it sat until the museum's director Timothy Riley uncovered it and sent it to astrophysicist Mario Livio.
Modern Musings Of Winston Churchill
Although it is a known fact that Churchill was the first Prime Minister to employ a science advisor - Frederick Lindemann - and also made it a habit to meet regularly with scientists, the modern thinking and scientific reasoning Churchill showed in the article has astonished one and all.
Livio who had the opportunity to go through the draft described its contents on Nature journal. Livio stated that Churchill's thinking was far ahead of his time and in the draft, the late Prime Minister of Britain considers the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
"Churchill's reasoning mirrors many modern arguments in astrobiology," states Livio in his article.
Churchill emphasised on the importance of water and his first point was that "all living things of the type we know require water". Livio also says that Churchill reasoned like a scientist, and considered with all might the possibility of presence of liquid in other forms on planets like Mars or the moons of Saturn or Jupiter.
Churchill also mused about the possibility of extra solar planets in 1939, more than 50 years before the actual discovery of exoplanets.
Extraterrestrial Life And Space Exploration
Churchill showing excellent scientific reasoning stated that "the sun is merely one star in our galaxy, which contains several thousand millions of others." Based on this belief, Churchill goes on to say in his essay that there are many more solar systems like that of ours in the vast universe.
Here he comes back to the possibility of the existence of exoplanets and goes on to state that these planets "will be the right size to keep on their surface water and possibly an atmosphere of some sort". He further adds that these planets will be at an appropriate distance from their parent sun to maintain suitable temperature.
In the essay, Churchill predicts the possibility of space exploration and writes that "it may be possible to travel to the moon, or even to Venus or Mars."
Churchill surmises that hundreds and thousands of galaxies may be present in the vast universe having their own suns and own solar systems. The possibility of those plants fostering extraterrestrial life should not be considered an impossible notion.
Photo: Steven Buyansky | Flickr
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