Winston Churchill believed in ALIENS - and explained why in an explosive essay that has been unearthed
In a piece entitled Are We Alone In The Universe? the wartime leader wrote that he believed "thinking creatures" must exist somewhere in the "immense" universe
- 17:59, 15 FEB 2017
- Updated18:18, 15 FEB 2017
Winston Churchill (Photo: PA)
The wartime leader outlined his views in an 11-page essay called Are We Alone In The Universe? which has only just surfaced.
Writing in 1939 he said: “With hundreds of thousands of nebulae, each containing thousands of millions of suns, the odds are enormous there must be immense numbers which possess planets whose circumstances would not render life impossible.
“I 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 immense universe which contains living, thinking creatures.”
The wartime leader - who promised to fight Hitler “on the beaches, landing grounds, in fields and streets”, also predicted we would visit other worlds, saying: “One day, possibly even in the not very distant future, it may be possible to travel to the Moon, even Venus or Mars.
Churchill was a devoted fan of HG Wells and began his essay shortly after the 1938 US radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, which whipped up Mars fever in the media. He reasoned that Venus and Mars were the only places in the solar system other than
Earth that could harbour life, the other planets being too cold, or on Mercury’s sun-facing side, too hot.
He even noted the importance of liquid water for extraterrestrials to survive, adding a planet must be “between a few degrees of frost and the boiling point of water”.
The essay was passed to the US National Churchill Museum, in Fulton, Missouri, in the 80s.
The 11-page article was probably intended for the now defunct Sunday newspaper the News of the World, but for reasons unknown the essay remained with his publisher and only recently resurfaced at the US National Churchill Museum at Westminster College in Missouri.
Never published, it was only found last year. Now it has been revealed on the eve of a world science conference in Boston. Read More
The essay in which Churchill said he believed in aliens has only just surfaced (Photo: Getty)
Ironically, Winston Churchill made an appearance in season five of Doctor Who, where he was played by Ian McNeice.
In the episode, titled Victory of the Daleks, the Tardis takes The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) to war-torn Britain in the middle of World War Two where they meet Churchill.
It might never have seen the light of day. Lost and long forgotten, the unpublished essay by Winston Churchill was penned a year before he became Britain’s prime minister. The matter to which he applied his great mind? Not politics, not the battlefield, but the existence of alien life.
Astrophysicist Mario Livio, who analysed the typewritten essay, praised Churchill’s knowledge of research and scientific thinking.
Writing in journal Nature, Livio said: “At a time when a number of today’s politicians shun science, I find it moving to recall a leader who engaged with it so profoundly.
At a time when a number of today’s politicians shun science, Livio said he found it moving to recall a leader who engaged with it so profoundly. “It does evoke some nostalgia to a time when high ranking politicians could think about such profound scientific questions
,” he said.
The 11-page essay was passed to the US National Churchill Museum, in Fulton, Missouri, in the 1980s. But it was never published or analysed by experts.
Take me to your leader... Churchill and Ian McNeice as war lord, with Dr Who Daleks (Photo: PA)
Then last year the incoming museum director, Timothy Riley, unearthed the document, and handed it to Livio for an examination.
Livio said the document was a “great surprise” and proved that Churchill was ahead of his time - even considering possibilities that mirror issues in astrobiology research today.
A newly unearthed essay has opened a fresh window on the curiosity of the loquacious, prolific Winston Churchill. Even as the second world war loomed, the man who was poised to lead Britain in the Allied fight against Nazi Germany, still found time to contemplate the possibility of planets beyond our solar system as well as
other questions that
dominate astrobiology today.
Livio said: “Imagine my thrill that I may be the first scientist to examine this essay.”
He added: “Winston Churchill is best known as a wartime leader, one of the most influential politicians of the twentieth century, a clear-eyed historian and an eloquent orator.
Richard Toye, professor of history at Exeter University, and author of three books on Churchill, said the great wartime leader wrote scores of newspaper and magazine articles before he took office to fund his expensive lifestyle. It was not unknown for Churchill to jot down notes and pay a ghostwriter to flesh a piece out for him.
He was also passionate about science and technology.”
Churchill read Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species aged just 22, while stationed with the British Army in India in 1896.
During the Second World War, he regularly met with top scientists, was the first prime minister to hire a science adviser, and backed the development of Britain’s nuclear programme.
Churchill read keenly on science from an early age. While stationed in India with the British Army, the 22-year-old read a primer on physics and Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. In the 1920s and 1930s he wrote scores of magazine and newspaper pieces on popular science, ranging from nuclear fusion to evolution and cells.
Livio said: “The science-firiendly environment that Churchill created in the UK through government funding of laboratories, telescopes and technology development spawned post-war discoveries and inventions in fields from molecular genetics to X-ray crystallography.
We know Churchill, who became prime minister in 1940, supplemented his politician’s salary with articles for London newspapers and magazines. So the discovery of the essay Are
To continue reading this premium article, register or login for free for unlimited access. Existing users, please log in.
But his belief in alien life was pre viously unknown.
Livio said: “Almost 80 years later, the question that obsessed Churchill is one of the hottest topics of scientific research.
“Searches for signs of subsurface life on Mars are ongoing. Simulations of Venus’s climate hint that it may once have been habitable.
“Astronomers believe that, in a few decades, we will discover some biological signatures of present or past life in the atmosphere of extrasolar planets.”
Thousands of scientists, doctors and researchers are attending the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Massachusetts.
In the essay, Churchill ponders the conditions that make for a habitable world, and on considering the vast number of stars perhaps circled by alien planets, comes to the conclusion that the answer to the essay’s title question
, Are We Alone in the Universe?, was surely a resounding “no”.