Winston Churchill's ALIEN obsession as PM predicted life on 'Mars or Venus'

And in typical Churchill style, he notes, "I, for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are making of our civilisation here that I am prepared to think we are the only spot in this huge universe which contains living, thinking creatures, or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time". The essay was updated in the 1950s but it never appeared in any newspaper. For decades, the manuscript was in the archives of the US National Churchill Museum, unearthed by new director Timothy Riley in 2016.

GETTYSir Winston Churchill wrote an essay 'Are We Alone in the Universe?'

Winston Churchill, the former prime minister of Britain, had an ardent interest in the existence of aliens.

Churchill, among his many pursuits, was a proponent of science and a bit of an astronomer.

Churchill's essay, written in 1939 and revised in the 1950s, was discovered a year ago in Missouri's National Churchill Museum and handed over to astrophysicist Mario Livio, who wrote about it this week.

In a recent article for Nature, writer Mario Livio explores and contextualizes Churchill's argument, which may sound quite reasonable to modern ears.

Churchill sent the article to his publisher, Emery Reves, and revisited it again some years later, even changing the terminology used in the title (from "Science" to "Universe") to reflect the advances in understanding that had taken place in the scientific field during those years.

"The most wonderful thing is that he started this essay when Europe was on the brink of war and there he is, musing about a question about a scientific topic that is really a question out of curiosity", he said.

Dr Livio says the wartime leader reasoned like a scientist about the likelihood of life on other planets.

Churchill wrote (per Phys.org), "I am not sufficiently conceited to think that my sun is the only one with a family of planets". And scientists still believe that, when searching for alien life, the presence of liquid water will be a requisite for living organisms to exist.

He concluded that many of them "will be the right size to keep on their surface water and possibly an atmosphere of some sort" and some would be "at the proper distance from their parent sun to maintain a suitable temperature".

In 2015, researchers calculated that our Milky Way galaxy alone may be home to billions of planets orbiting in their host stars' so-called "Goldilocks" zone. He stated that the these were the only two planets after Earth which could conceive life. In the essay, he wrote about what scientists later termed as "habitable" zone.

Winston Churchill: army officer, politician. and now space enthusiast.

  • Carolyn Briggs