Winston Churchill was known for his leadership during World War II, but a newfound essay on alien life reveals another side of him, one that was deeply curious about the universe.
"I, for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are making of our civilization here that I am prepared to think we are the only spot in this immense universe which contains living, thinking creatures," he wrote in the newly uncovered essay, "or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time."
Besides being prime minister of the United Kingdom during the tumultuous years of World War II, the British statesman was also a prolific writer and proponent of science. In fact, he was the first prime minister to have a science advisor. Those traits converged in the newfound 11-page essay about the search for alien life, discovered at the Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri. It was first written in 1939 and was slightly revised in the late 1950s. [5 Bold Claims of Alien Life]The museum's director, Timothy Riley, showed the document to astrophysicist Mario Livio, who described the work 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?".
"I was amazed to see the title of this article, first of all," Livio, head of the Institute Science Division at the Space Telescope Science Institute, told Space.com. "And then I read it and was even more astonished, because I saw that this great politician is musing about a real scientific topic, an intriguing scientific topic, [and] he is reasoning about this in the same way that a scientist today would go about it."
Churchill was not a scientist, and when the politician composed the essay, Europe was on the brink of war, Livio said.
"And yet, at that time, he finds the time to contemplate such issues and think about things so clearly," Livio added.
Evaluating the likelihood of life
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 exhibit other characteristics that aren't terribly lifelike, Livio said.
Then, Churchill discussed where to look for life: in places with liquid water (or where liquid water can persist, which is what scientists now call the "habitable zone" around stars).
"Then, he says, OK, once we've defined life, what are the necessary ingredients for life to exist? And he identifies liquid water as one such ingredient," Livio said. "And that's exactly what we do today. Our searches for life in the universe today are primarily guided by liquid water."
In his essay, Churchill considered the solar system, deciding that only Mars and Venus could have fulfilled those conditions. The outer planets are too cold, Mercury is too hot on one side and too cold on the other, and the moon and asteroids have gravity too weak to trap the atmosphere, Livio wrote, summarizing Churchill's argument.
Then, Churchill discussed the possibility of planets outside the solar system — exoplanets — which had not yet been discovered. The model he considered, described by astrophysicist James Jean in 1917, predicted that planetary formation is very unlikely to occur. (The theory, which proved incorrect, described planets forming by the gas torn from a star when another star passes by it.)
"But the beautiful thing is, then he says, But wait! Maybe this theory is wrong! Why should we think that this theory is correct?" Livio said. Churchill added that the abundance of double stars suggests that planetary systems could form commonly.
In the article, Livio quoted Churchill's essay: "I am not sufficiently conceited to think that my sun is the only one with a family of planets." Churchill went on to posit that a large fraction of those planets would be the right size to keep water on their surface and maybe an atmosphere, and that some would be at the right distance from their stars to maintain a life-friendly temperature.
"This chain of logic is astounding, in my opinion, for a politician," Livio said. [The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Explained (Infographic)]
Churchill and science
Livio said Churchill saw value in science, but the statesman took a nuanced approach. He understood that science was necessary to win the war effort, but also established an atmosphere in which science was important in its own right, and he wanted it to be used to improve the world.
"As a result of that, in the 1950s, came all these great discoveries," Livio said, citing milestones like finding the structure of DNA and developing radio astronomy, which stemmed from work on radar. "Once you generate the framework and the infrastructure for science to thrive, then a variety of discoveries come."
But Churchill also emphasized that science should work to advance humanity, Livio said.
"Later in life, he also understood that one cannot do the science in what he would call a moral vacuum," Livio said. "You need to embed all the scientific research and discoveries also in the context of human values, and an understanding of the human condition."
Livio emphasized that today, science has serious problems to address, particularly regarding food resources, climate change and disease. Churchill's approach to science is necessary, Livio said.
"All of those [concerns] require serious scientific input, so there must be the mechanisms in place to get that scientific input, and the correct scientific input — which means science advisors at high levels, and involvement of scientists in a variety of decisions concerning some of those challenges," Livio said. "It certainly doesn't help to shun sciences; some of these problems can turn into disasters if nothing is done."
As for the likelihood of life on other planets, over the past 20 years, scientists have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars and have made large strides in determining these worlds' characteristics remotely. But researchers have yet to discover definitive signs of life elsewhere in the universe, or to visit other planets in person to hunt for life. However, Churchill didn't want to put bounds on what advancing science or technology might bring, Livio said.
"When he discussed the possibility of traveling to other planets and things like that, he says, well maybe this isn't possible today but, he says, 'It is rash to set limits to the progress of science,'" Livio said. "Things that are not possible today, you shouldn't think that they would not be possible in the future."
Email Sarah Lewin at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.
Do you believe alien life exists elsewhere in the universe?
- Yes - We may not have found them yet, but they're out there.
- No - Aliens are just part of science fiction.
- I'm not sure
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For over a thousand years people have reported seeing strange objects flying in the sky. Today the unknown flying objects -UFOs continue to visit us, on a regular basis. A large amount of recorded historical events of this issue have taken place to give the subject of UFOs recognition. Recently, many individuals have claimed to witness or be part of fantastic stories that attract some while are turned away. Videotapes, photographs and pieces of physical evidence do support some of these stories. Even more frightening, small objects called implants have been found in the bodies of some people that have reported strange sightings or encounters with strange objects. Once one begins to put it all together, the history, stories, claims, and evidence that science is to studying, the truth has come clear. We are not alone aliens do exist!
Different cultures throughout the world have historical events, in their histories that are very much similar to what we call a UFO today. The oldest recorded sighting belongs to Thutmose, Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt around 1500 (BC) "â¦A circle of fire coming in the skyâ¦ It had no head the breath of its mouth had a foul odor. Its body was one rod (16.5ft[5m]) long and one rod wide. It had no voice." (Brookesmith, 13). Days after this, the number of objects increased it was said that, "these things became more numerous in the sky than ever. They shone more in the sky than the brightness of the sun, and extended to the limits of the four supports of the heavensâ¦" (Brookesmith, 13). What could shine in the sky more than the sun? These ancient events did occur thousands of years before today"s world of technology and modern aircraft. This supports the fact that these UFOs were that, Unknown Flying Objects. In the past they had to deal with this any way they could, some cultures used religion and the Bible. There are certain passages in the Bible that could be translated as being sightings of UFOs. In Exodus Chapter 13, verses 21-22, "â¦the lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night." (Brookesmith,13). This can be translated to the following as I translate it, it seems like these people were being led by a craft that lit up the night for them. This is a very convincing UFO description. Such an event at that time could only be interpreted as being caused by, "The Lord". People on the ground, looking up described all these sightings.
On June 24, 1947 an Idaho businessman Kenneth Arnold, an experienced pilot was flying over the Cascade Mountains, when an incredibly bright flash lit up his airplane. He soon after described what he saw "They didn"t fly like any other aircraft I had seen beforeâ¦ they flew in a definite formationâ¦like speed boats on rough water or similar to the tail of a Chinese kite that I once saw blowing in the windâ¦ they fluttered and sailed, tipping their wings alternately and emitting very bright blue white flashed from their surfaces." (Brookesmith, 44). Then when he was questioned by a reporter from the East Oregonian newspaper Kenneth Arnold described the object he has seen as flying, "like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water." (Brookesmith, 44). From these words came the term "flying saucers." Arnold"s sighting unleashed a new era of people seeing flying saucers and mysterious flying objects.
From June to the end of July in 1947 a massive amount of sightings occurred. The Air Force had received over 850 reports of Unidentified Flying Objects. During this time a UFO had been seen in every state except for Georgia and West Virginia. Many of the witnesses who reported seeing these strange objects include professional and highly educated people such as, military and commercial pilots, U.S. Intelligence officers, scientist, police officers and average American citizens. (Brookesmith, 45). One of the most convincing encounter happened during the mid 1900"s was titled as follows in a Roswell newspaper headline, "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region", the article said:
The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucerâ¦the disk was recovered on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity, after an unidentified rancher had notified sheriff Geo. Wilcox, here, that he has found the instrument on his premises. Major Marcel and a detail from his department went to the ranch and recovered the disk it was stated. After the intelligence office here had inspected the instrument it was flown to higher headquartersâ¦(RAAF)
The next day the Roswell newspaper headline read, "Gen. Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer", the report said:
Forth Worth, Texas- July 9th an examination by the army revealed last night that mysterious objects found on a lonely New Mexico ranch was a harmless high- altitude weather balloon â“ not a grounded flying disk. Excitement was high until Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, commander of the Eighth air forces with headquarters here cleared up the mysteryâ¦ (Gen. Ramey, Headline)
Interestingly, the day before all this happened, the Associated Press released a news report titled, "FLYING SAUCERS SEEN IN MOST STATES NOW" (Berlitz-Moore, 27). At that time, the 509th was the only airplane squadron that was equipped with atomic bombs (Joe, internet). The fact that a Major of the 509th Bomb group"s intelligence office could mistake a weather balloon for a flying saucer makes the second official explanation suspect to be highly untrue. Why was the General the only one who saw it as a weather balloon and not the reporting officers? Up to this point in history, the UFO phenomenon consisted of people only seeing Unidentified Flying Objects. After the Roswell event, this all began to change.
Most people are or have been familiarized with the typical UFO encounter, one witness or numerous witnesses see a strange object in the sky. The object usually flies away at amazing speeds and the observers note it as a strange incident and continue along on with what they were doing. Some have realized that after such an incident they cannot account for time that was lost during the encounter. An example of these experiences is discussed in the book, "Missing Time". In a typical case, a couple or a person is driving home late at night on a desolate road far from population. They see a bright light and the car engine dies. The next thing they know, the light flies and the car engine starts up. Only after getting home do they realize their trip took hours longer than it should have taken (Hopkins, 8). When hypnotized, people tend to remember what happened during the missing time. All the stories told under hypnosis are extremely similar, being taken onboard a ship, subject to painful physical procedures and then being released (Hopkins, 12). Most of these abductees have strange objects appearing on X-rays of their heads, feet, hands, arms and legs (Striber, 183). Many of these objects have been surgically removed. Dr. Leir a pediatric surgeon who has performed such surgery reported the objects as being an, "ultra hard metallic highly magnetic anomalous iron alloy". (F.I.R.S.T,Internet). While one surgery was taking place, it was being recorded on video, the object moved away from the scalpel. (Striber, 228). These implants are just the beginning of a growing list of physical evidence. Scientists are beginning to deem some of this evidence extraterrestrial.
An anonymous ex-military man, who claims he was part of the crew who was responsible from cleaning up the Roswell crash debris, pocketed a small piece of the material. He took it home and hid it for decades. He gave it to a friend who later donated it to some scientist for analysis. (F.I.R.S.T, Internet) After a year and a half of analysis Dr. Russell Vernon Clark, a chemist from the University of California at San Diego reported, "We have determined that this material shows significant variations from the normal isotopic compositions found on the Earth and should be considered extraterrestrial in origin." (Cninews, Internet) This is the only known hard evidence supporting the Roswell incident. Unfortunately, more sinister evidence has been connected with the UFO phenomena. Since 1970 ranchers have been finding their cattle mutilated. (National, Internet). According to a cattle mutilation web site:
All of the cow"s blood is drainedâ¦ unlike animal attack, the flesh, adjoining the area where it has been removed, is smooth and clean as if cut with a searing or laser scalpelâ¦Mainly the sexual, anterior digestive tract and sensory organs are affected. (No predator differentiates so precisely). Still, no tracks of any kind can be found around the mutilation site, except, sometimes, tripod marks... No person or group has ever been convicted of mutilating cattleâ¦ (Granders,Internet)
The most un-human aspect of the mutilations is that the cuts were caused much like something a laser would cause. According to National Institute for Discovery Science, "â¦with currently available laser technology, cutting a 3-5 mm thick cow hide would require equipment weighing several thousand pounds" (National,Internet). It is hard to believe any laser that size could have been transported to the fields, used to mutilate the cow and returned to the research lab or university unnoticed. No one, including scientists, have been able to determine who is responsible for these mutilations. While the scientists cannot solve the cattle mutilation question, they are beginning to bring light to the study of UFOs as a serious subject for study. For the first time, typical scientists are giving the UFO subject merit. A Stanford University press release reports, "- In the first independent review of UFO phenomena since 1970, a panel of scientists has concluded that some sightings are accompanied by physical evidence that deserves scientific study." (Stanford University Press, Internet). Mainstream science admitting that the phenomena"s physical evidence cannot be ignored proves that highly educated people are taking this seriously.
That strange has now been seen in the sky for a very long time. Intelligent, honorable people have seen UFO"s and reported them. High-ranking intelligence officers of the military"s first atomic bomb squadron have recovered and examined what they believed to be a flying saucer and parts of it. After shipping it to higher headquarters their general tells them it"s not a flying saucer or UFO. Of all objects it is reported to be what seems like anyone could have identified a weather balloon! People who have observed UFO"s and reported missing time afterwards only to find out later that they became unwittingly extraterrestrial specimens. Surgeons are removing mysterious iron alloy metal objects from these people"s bodies. Some of these objects moving away from the surgeon"s scalpel! Doctors have tested alleged UFO crash material and claimed that it "â¦should be considered extraterrestrial in origin." Rancher"s cattle are being mutilated with laser like tools before lasers were commercially available. All these reports add up to one a very disturbing conclusion, which worries me and should do so to everyone else.
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