The Churchill-science discovery that wasn’t

Photograph: Guardian/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock


Churchill’s interests in science have been all over the media this past week. This has followed the claim in the leading science journal Nature that Mario Livio had discovered a ‘lost’ article by Winston Churchill on the possible existence of alien life. Graham was inundated with requests for comments on this and found himself trying to avoid being a killjoy: the problem was that the text was not a discovery. He had come across the article six years ago during his research for Churchill’s Bomb and he knew that the piece had been published in 1942 and again in 1975 ( see here). The good news is that Livio shed interesting light on Churchill’s text (almost certainly drafted by Frederick Lindemann) and the press coverage generated a lot of interest in Churchill’s career as a science writer. Graham said: ‘It is a pity that Churchill’s interests in science still aren’t better known. It’s clear I should have done a better job of promoting Churchill’s Bomb!’

Graham’s contributions to the discussion in the past week included an opinion piece in The Guardian and an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science (from 12 mins to 22 mins)