from the good-fast-
Nicola Davis writes at The Guardian that a new exhibition at London’s Science Museum titled Churchill’s Scientists aims to explore how a climate that mingled necessity with ambition spurred British scientists to forge ahead in fields as diverse as drug-discovery and operational research, paving the way for a further flurry of postwar progress in disciplines from neurology to radio astronomy. Churchill "was very unusual in that he was a politician from a grand Victorian family who was also interested in new technology and science,” says Andrew Nahum. “That was quite remarkable at the time.” An avid reader of Charles Darwin and HG Wells, Churchill also wrote science-inspired articles himself and fostered an environment where the brightest scientists could build ground-breaking machines, such as the Bernard Lovell telescope, and make world-changing discoveries, in molecular genetics, radio astronomy, nuclear power, nerve and brain function and robotics. “During the war the question was never, 'How much will it cost?’ It was, 'Can we do it and how soon can we have it?’ This left a heritage of extreme ambition and a lot of talented people who were keen to see what it could provide."
According to Cambridge Historian Richard Toye, Churchill was a “closet science-fiction fan” who borrowed the lines for one of his most famous speeches from H. G. Wells - to depict the rise of Hitler's Germany. "It's a bit like Tony Blair borrowing phrases from Star Trek or Doctor Who," says Toye. A close friend of Wells, Churchill said that The Time Machine was “one of the books I would like to take with me to Purgatory”. Wells and Churchill met in 1902 and several times thereafter, and kept in touch in person and by letter until Wells' death in 1946. "We need to remember that there was a time when Churchill was a radical liberal who believed these things," Toye adds. "Wells is often seen as a socialist, but he also saw himself as a liberal, and he saw Churchill as someone whose views were moving in the right direction."