In Brief

Winston Churchill's views on aliens revealed in lost essay

World War II prime minister predicted space travel and was open to the idea that extra-terrestrials existed

A previously undiscovered essay by former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill has revealed that the leader believed aliens might exist.

Written in 1939 and revised in the 1950s, Are We Alone in the Universe? discusses the wartime leader's deep fascination with the cosmic world around him.

Churchill wrote: "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."

In addition, the essay, which was donated to the Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, in the 1980s, but then sat unnoticed until late last year, predicted man's journey into the solar system.

"One day, possibly even in the not very distant future, it may be possible to travel to the Moon, or even to Venus and Mars," the prime minister penned.

Churchill also wrote that the likelihood of other planets housing alternative life depended on the existence of water and that human beings would be severely limited to believe they were the only intelligent life in the universe.

These remarks have been met with praise by academic Mario Livio, who analysed the essay for scientific journal Nature.

"This chain of logic is astounding, in my opinion, for a politician," Livio said.

Churchill was the first prime minister to have a science adviser and regularly met with scientists such as radio astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell to talk about his discoveries.

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