Winston Churchill Wrote of Alien Life in a Lost Essay David

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The museum's director, Timothy Riley, showed the document to astrophysicist Mario Livio, who and Churchill's approach to science in an article published today (Feb. 15) in the journal Nature. Churchill's essay was titled "Are We Alone in the Universe?".

For nearly forty years, the enlightening essay sat unnoticed in the museum's catalog of Churchill materials until it was recently found.

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Soon after Thomas Riley discovered the essay in the Churchill Museum’s archives, two other versions of it resurfaced. The original draft is housed at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Due to copyright issues, the essay itself cannot currently be published, but the Churchill Museum is hoping to resolve this situation soon.

Winston Churchill on Aliens: 1939 Essay Discovered

In the essay, Churchill first set out to define life, characterizing the most important quality as the ability to reproduce. He chose to consider "comparatively highly organized life," which Livio said is probably multicellular life. Churchill likely did this to avoid ambiguity for things like viruses, which are able to replicate but that aren't terribly lifelike, Livio said.

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In the late 1950s—after guiding the country through World War II, losing his job as prime minister to the Labour Party and regaining it from 1951-55—Churchill returned to the unpublished essay. He made a few minor typographical changes and refined the title to reflect more current scientific terminology, changing it from “Are We Alone in Space?” to “Are We Alone in the Universe?” Churchill returned to the unpublished essay while on vacation in the South of France at the villa of his publisher, Emery Reves.

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Buried within the archives of a museum in Missouri, an essay on the search alien life has come to light, 78 years after it was penned. Written on the brink of the second world war, its unlikely author is the political leader Winston Churchill.

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Winston Churchill is perhaps best known as the cigar-chomping prime minister who led Britain successfully through World War II, becoming one of the most influential politicians of the 20th century along the way. He was also a brilliant historian and writer, and even won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. But it may surprise you to learn that Churchill was also a bona fide science geek who penned articles for newspapers and magazines about evolution, cell biology and even...extraterrestrial life? In a lost 1939 essay recently rediscovered in some dusty museum archives, Churchill wrote about an all-too familiar question that was apparently pressing on his mind.

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Were Churchill prime minister now, he might find himself facing a similar era of political and economic uncertainty. Yet in the 78 years since he first penned his essay, we have gone from knowing of no planets outside our Solar System to the .

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The type-written essay entitled 'Are We Alone in the Universe?', was uncovered last year in the archives of the U.S. National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, and passed to astrophysicist Mario Livio for expert examination.