Thursday, 16 February 2017
Churchill and the Aliens
In a previously unknown essay found recently in America, Winston Churchill expressed his belief in aliens. This is garnering silly headlines as you might expect. But it didn't, I think, mean that Churchill was another Lembit Opik type figure or one of those people who imagine that they have been rectally probed in the desert. This, I have always thought, simply tells us a great deal about their sexual predilections and little else. Anyway, so long as the aliens are over the age of consent who are we to judge?
Churchill, I imagine, was just writing in the wake of HG Wells and Orson Welles. Alien life had never been thought of much before and indeed men being probed in the desert was a phenomenon that was created around the same time. Not that I am saying Churchill had leanings that way you understand.
But belief in aliens or extra terrestrials was actually perfectly reasonable even then. The first tentative steps for man to go into the lower reaches of space were being thought of then. The science was in its infancy and we were then some way off finding planets outside our solar system. But we could infer their presence by simple logic and have subsequently had that inference proven. Now we have discovered that the conditions for life are by no means limited to Mars. There are many other candidates in our solar system including some really exciting prospects among the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
None of this is to say that we need to worry any time soon about a war of the worlds. Our own world has plenty of prospects for villainy and arrogance for us to worry about. But there is a definite prospect of our either finding actual extra terrestrial life or finding evidence that it once existed. This may well happen in the next few years. Churchill was a man who was fascinated by science and technology. That fascination served us well during the war. But its nice to know he applied it in a more intellectually curious way too.