Winston Churchill: army officer, politician ... and now space enthusiast.
A newly discovered essay written by Churchill reveals he thought seriously about the likelihood of life on other planets.
Churchill drafted the 11-page article in 1939 when Europe was about to launch into war. Titled "Are We Alone In Space?" Churchill's article assesses the odds that other stars could host planets and contemplates whether those planets may harbor life — 50 years before the discovery of exoplanets. He notes the importance of liquid water and that a planet’s temperature must be in what is often referred to as the "Goldilocks zone" — not too hot, not too cold — to support life.
Churchill concludes that we may never know whether other planets support life due to the vastness of the universe.
But he had strong views on what discovering alien life would mean. Documents released in 2010 claim Churchill classified a report on a UFO sighting because he believed the report would incite panic and shake the public's religious faith.
Whether Churchill actually believed in the existence of aliens or UFOs, his essay shows he was ahead of his time. The presence of liquid water still drives our search for life on other celestial bodies, and astrobiologists continue to comb through the universe, looking for earth-like planets beyond our solar system.