Thursday, 23 February, 2017

Winston Churchill's ALIEN obsession as PM predicted life on 'Mars or Venus'

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Theresa Hayes | 17 February, 2017, 01:27

That lack of gravitational muscle is one of the things that caused Mars, with just 39% of the gravity of Earth, to lose nearly all of its atmosphere and thus, nearly all of the water that once flowed and pooled on its surface. What he is not well known for are his ruminations regarding science.

Churchill was a prolific writer: in the 1920s and 30s, he wrote popular science essays on topics as diverse as evolution and fusion power. As Livio emphasises, Churchill's musings about exoplanets were truly decades ahead of his time, since astronomers only started confirming their existence in the 1990s. He was the first ever British prime minister to have a scientific advisor, Frederick Lindemann.

"Renaissance man that he was, Churchill was keenly interested in science", Livio said in a statement. The letter was titled, "Are We Alone in the Universe?". Churchill's work itself will be unveiled today at the National Churchill Museum, where visitors can view several of its pages. Somehow, it had been forgotten. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan both claimed to have seen UFOs, while Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared that "The phenomenon of UFOs does exist, and it must be treated seriously".

Livio who had the opportunity to go through the draft described its contents on Nature journal. Soon, two other copies were found in United Kingdom archives. He did it and published the article in the science magazine Nature. Due to copyright concerns, there are now no solid plans to publish the piece in full, but Dr. Livio outlined Churchill's essay in an article published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The original letter could not be published due to copyright issues. Using the "Copernican Principle", Churchill argues that the vastness of the universe and the multiplicity of planets leads us to believe that we are not alone.

Churchill also wrote that there could be presence of multiple stars with families of planets. From there, he presumes that there are probably other forms of "comparatively highly-organised life". Water is considered an essential requirement for life, however primitive.

Water on Mars. Unfortunately, nothing lingers there now. The search for liquid water is still a driving factor in scientists' search for extraterrestrial life today, Livio notes. "We know there are millions of double stars, and if they could be formed, why not planetary systems?" These could also have a type of atmosphere.

But his essay is much more than speculation. Venus's atmosphere is poisonous. - Churchill took time away from forging the British resistance to Adolf Hitler to muse about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Though scientists have not found evidence for life on the red planet, some readings from it have suggested that it could and life is thought perhaps to have thrived on the planet many years ago.

Churchill also stated that he saw great opportunity for space exploration. For instance, he wrote: "One day, possibly even in the not very distant future, it may be possible to travel to the moon, or even to Venus or Mars". But Churchill was unconvinced by this and favored the modern idea that the planets coalesced out of a disk of dust and gas around what we would now call a protostar.

Churchill was already thinking along similar lines almost 80 years ago, writing that "with hundreds of thousands of nebulae, each containing thousands of millions of suns, the odds are enormous that there must be huge numbers which possess planets whose circumstances would not render life impossible".