A never-published 11-pages long essay which belonged to Winston Churchill has been discovered in the archives of the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri. It lay there since the 1980s but it was reportedly written in 1939.
The wife of Churchill’s publisher reportedly gave the essay to the musem, after her husband died. Last year, Israeli astrophysicist Mario Livio was invited to study and review the work. He did it and published the article in the science magazine Nature. The British leader was passionate about science and technology, as well as by some other, rather interesting topics. Among them, extraterrestrial life.
In the essay, Churchill talks about the situation the world was in at the time and explains his doubt regarding the fact that we are alone in the Universe. Actually, the essay was revisited in the 1950s by Churchill, who changed its title from “Are we alone in space?” to “Are we alone in the universe?”
It is interesting to note that the essay found in Missouri is not the original version. That one is held in the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, U.K. Livio reviewed the 1950s version of the work.
Churchill says that it is impossible for him to think that we are the most advanced, both mentally and physically, creatures in the universe. He declared himself unimpressed by the progress we are making with our civilization and voiced his concern regarding this situation.
According to Timothy Riley, the director and chief curator of the National Churchill Museum, this essay reveals a lot about Churchill’s personality and views on different topics. He was known to be a science-oriented man, but it seems like he had other interests too.
Churchill was the first British prime-minister to hire a science adviser, Frederick Lindemann. He also often had meetings with famous scientists like Sir Bernard Lovell, one of the pioneers of radio astronomy. According to Dr. Livio, he was very surprised when he got the offer to study the essay. Before reading it, he would not have thought that Churchill actually wrote something like this.
He says that the British prime minister voices a lot of ideas which are also common today. He was thinking like a scientist and acknowledged the fact that there might be life on other planets.
In the essay, he actually draws from the Copernican Principle which states that human life should not be the only one present in the Universe. He considered the possibility that other stars might host planets, more than 50 years before the actual discovery of exoplanets.
Winston Churchill was no stranger to writing and especially scientific writing. He wrote a lot of science essays in the 20s and 30s on various topics. As for the question “should the essay be published?”, Livio stated that at the moment, this is impossible.
The essay is reportedly protected by copyright, but the musem is currently working on this issue. The work of Churchill should be seen by everyone interested in this topic.
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