Buried within the archives of a museum in Missouri, an essay on the search alien life has come to light, 78 years after it was penned. Written on the brink of the Second World War, its unlikely author is the political leader Winston Churchill.
If the British prime minister was seeking solace in the prospect of life beyond our war-torn
The 11-page article – Are We Alone in the Universe? – has sat in the US National Churchill Museum archives in Fulton, Missouri from the 1980s until it was reviewed by astrophysicist Mario Livio in this week’s edition of the journal Nature.
Livio highlights that the as-yet unpublished text shows Churchill’s arguments were extremely contemporary are for a piece written nearly eight decades previously.
In it, Churchill speculates on the conditions needed to support life but notes the difficulty in finding evidence due to the vast distances between the stars.
Churchill fought the darkness of wartime with his trademark inspirational speeches and championing of science.
This latter passion led to the development of radar, which proved instrumental to victory over Nazi Germany, and a boom in scientific advancement in post-war Britain.
Churchill’s writings on science reveal him to be a visionary. Publishing a piece entitled Fifty Years Hence in 1931, he detailed future technologies from the atomic bomb and wireless communications to genetic engineered food and even humans.
But as his country faced the uncertainty of another world war, Churchill’s thoughts turned to the possibility of life on other worlds.