What do you think of, when you think of Winston Churchill? Most people will think of World War II and his leadership there. Some might think of his barbed sense of humor. But few remember that he was a surprisingly accurate futurist and a man who appreciated the advances of science. That’s especially prominent now, with a lost essay uncovered revealing Churchill was convinced aliens existed.
This isn’t to say Churchill buys into the conspiracy theories of little green men. Instead, he anticipated the Drake equation, a logical argument that there must be intelligent life in the universe, by decades in the 1939 essay, which he revised slightly in the early 1950s. Interestingly, Churchill seems fairly up on his 1930s science, and doesn’t take many logical leaps. He also has a rather tart point about the state of the human world at the time; remember, this was 1939:
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, or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time.
It’s a compelling reminder that science is not separate from politics, and the wonder of it can enthrall all of us. And it renews, yet again, the question we all want an answer to: What’s really out there in space?