US college discovers unpublished Churchill manuscript—about aliens

Historians say the former prime minister was fascinated by science

Something otherworldly has been found at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. 

An unpublished essay by Winston Churchill may not sound like science fiction, until you know the essay's topic: Aliens.

Churchill believed in life on Venus and Mars, and wrote 11 pages about it in his essay, "Are We Alone in the Universe?"

"I... 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," Churchill's essay reads, continuing, "...or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time."

Tim Riley, the director and chief curator of Westminster College's National Churchill Museum, initially discovered the unpublished essay in 2014 in a box at the museum. Riley and his colleagues waited until now to announce the find so that the astrophysicist Mario Livio could analyze it for the science journal Nature

Related: How 100 human brains went missing from UT-Austin

Livio's article concludes that Churchill was serious about the possibility of extraterrestrial life—in the essay, he explores theories of planet formation and limitations of space travel. Livio notes that the unpublished essay holds particular significance in the context of our current political landscape.

"At a time when a number of today's politicians shun science, I find it moving to recall a leader who engaged in it so profoundly," he writes. "It does evoke some nostalgia to a time when high ranking politicians could think about such profound scientific questions" (Keller, Columbia Day Tribune, 2/17; Sample, The Guardian, 2/15).

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