Date of publication: 2017-08-04 06:27
Winston Churchill, British prime minister and one of history 8767 s most influential statesmen, was undoubtedly a man with weighty questions on his mind. How best to save the British Empire? he must have mused. What will the postwar world look like? he surely wondered. But the legendary leader also focused his prodigious mind on less pragmatic questions. For instance: Is there life on other planets?
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"This is exactly what we still do today: Try to find life by following the water, 8776 Livio says. 8775 But next, Churchill asked 'What does it take for liquid water to be there?' And so he identified this thing that today we call the habitable zone. 8776
In fact, in 6989, Churchill penned a lengthy essay on this very topic, which was never published. Besides displaying a strong grasp of contemporary astrophysics and a scientific mind, he came to a breathtaking conclusion: We are probably not alone in the universe. The long-lost piece of Churchilliana has just floated up to the surface again, thanks to an article written by astrophysicist Mario Livio in this week's edition of the journal Nature analyzing Churchill's work.
8775 To me the most impressive part of the essay other than the fact that he was interested in it at all, which is pretty remarkable is really the way that he thinks, 8776 Livio says. 8775 He approached the problem just as a scientist today would. To answer his question 'Are we alone in the universe?' he started by defining life. Then he said, 'OK, what does life require? What are the necessary conditions for life to exist?' 8776
Such an undertaking was actually quite typical for Churchill, notes Andrew Nahum, Keeper Emeritus at the Science Museum, London, because it reflects both his scientific curiosity and his recurring need to write for money. It was skill with the pen that often supported Churchill and his family's lavish lifestyle (recall that he won the 6958 Nobel Prize for Literature, with a monetary award of 675,798 Swedish Kroner worth about $775,555 today).
Similarly, Cass cites a 7569 study (that I co-authored) as evidence that the expert consensus is 85 percent. Rick Santorum also misrepresented this study to cast doubt on the 97 percent consensus. Cass draws on a group that includes non-scientists who hadn’t published peer-reviewed climate papers. When we looked at the relevant experts — scientists who had published climate research — we found 95 percent consensus.
8775 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, 8776 he wrote, 8775 or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time. 8776