Winston Churchill, the wartime leader, the most influential politician of the twentieth century, has always been known for his oratory skills and passion for science and technology.
But, this is not it. He was the first Prime Minister who employed a Science advisor. And, quite recently an essay written by him has come into light. This essay has immense significance because the title of the essay is ‘Are we alone in the Universe?’
Quite surprising considering the indication towards extra-terrestrial beings!
The essay is typewritten and is 11 pages long. The first draft penned by him dated back to 1939 for the Sunday newspaper, London’s News of the World. It was revised in the late 1950s, while he resided at the Southern France at the publisher’s villa. The essay was passed on to US National Churchill Museum Archives in the 1980s by the publishers’ spouse Wendy Reeves.
What does the essay include?
Here are some points which outline the essay:
The essay initiates with projecting towards the most pertinent aspect of life, which in accordance with him is the capability to “breed and multiply”.
He points to the fact that “all living things of the type we know require water”. In fact, in consonance with his writings, the presence of water in liquid form is the guiding force for searching extra terrestrial life on Mars, the moons of Saturn and Jupiter or even beyond the Solar system.
Churchill also provides an explanation of the present day definition of the habitable zone, as the region around a star which is neither too cold nor too hot. He explains that it is these regions where life can survive in the write up.
However, he eradicates the Mercury, Moon and the asteroids from the list, coining that Mercury is too hot on the sunny side and too cold on the other. For Moon and asteroids he points out to the low gravity which is unable to trap the atmosphere, for the inability to harbor life.
Again, Churchill assesses on the probability that stars host planets. His acumen for the same is that “the sun is merely one star in our galaxy, which contains several thousand millions of others”.
And, then Churchill provides with an amazing point, which is the present day theory of formation of planet – “But this speculation depends upon the hypothesis that the 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?”
He does reflects on the distance involved, saying that it will indeed be really tedious to know, whether such planets are an abode of living creatures or plants.
He ends the essays pointing on the immense opportunity. He writes that even when the interstellar travel and communication are tedious; it might be possible to travel to the Moon, the Venus or the Mars.