Winston Churchill wrote a scientific article on extraterrestrial life in 1938, it has now been published for the first time.
Britain’s most famous Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was also very interested in research covering scientific topics as diverse as evolution and fusion power. He also pondered existential questions, such as; are we alone in the universe?
So much so that he wrote a scientific article about the potential for extraterrestrial life. The eleven-page essay was simply entitled “Are we alone in the universe?”
Churchill described the conditions of life required on other planets. Written at a time when we didn’t even know if there were planets in other solar systems than our own.
He wrote the article in 1939, but the text has not been published until now. Published in the journal Nature today. It was intended to be published in a newspaper, but then World War II broke out and it ended up in a private collection instead.
With some astounding accurate predictions, Churchill reasoned that there should be countless of planets in the universe.
“the sun is merely one star in our galaxy, which contains several thousand millions of others”.
“our sun may be indeed exceptional, and possibly unique”
And continues with some healthy skepticism.
“But this speculation depends upon the hypothesis that planets were formed in this way. Perhaps they were not. We know there are millions of double stars, and if they could be formed, why not planetary systems?”
Often very optimistic about future human opportunities and exploration.
“One day, possibly even in the not very distant future, it may be possible to travel to the moon, or even to Venus or Mars,”
He finishes the essay with an optimistic outlook.
“with hundreds of thousands of nebulae, each containing thousands of millions of suns, the odds are enormous that there must be immense numbers which possess planets whose circumstances would not render life impossible.”
Almost 80 years later, the question that obsessed Churchill is one of the hottest topics of scientific research. The search for signs of life in our solar system is on and many astronomers believe that, in a few decades, we will discover some biological signatures of present or past life in our solar system and even beyond.