Winston Churchill, an officer in the British Army, Nobel laureate, and two-time UK Prime Minister solidified his place in history as the leader of the British people throughout the majority of World War II. His unrelenting refusal to give in to the enemy and storied wit (accompanied with occasional drunken antics) have long been the talk of historians and defensive alcoholics alike, but a recently unearthed essay written by the Prime Minister in the early days of the Second World War gives us a glimpse into another of the man’s interests: alien life.
In 1939, Churchill wrote an eleven-page essay explaining his belief in extraterrestrials, then set it aside until the 1950s, but the man never pursued publishing it. Within the typed pages you can find a well-reasoned argument in favor of alien life that echoes many of the tenants cited by modern scientists who only recently began shifting toward the belief that life must exist elsewhere in the expanse of the universe – but Churchill voiced them decades before such claims would normally be met by anything other than laughter.
“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….” Churchill wrote in 1939. Developments in space observation technology, including satellite based systems, have since proven Churchill’s statement to be fundamentally true. In the decades since he wrote the essay, 3,572 exoplanets have been discovered orbiting other stars in our universe, with more being located each day. Among those, many are believed to be of the right composition and within the appropriate distance from their relative stars to potentially harbor life.
In the essay, Churchill identified liquid water as a necessity for life as we know it, though he opined that life “could exist” using some other form of liquid, but concluded that “nothing in our present knowledge entitles us to make such an assumption.”