When my father, James Dickey, was a boy in the 1930s he read every bit of pulp fiction by Edgar Rice Burroughs that he could get his hands on. He liked Tarzan, but his favorites were the Mars books (basis for the recent mega-flop John Carter) and the Pellucidar series “at the Earth’s core.” The books were reissued in the early 1960s, some of them by Ballantine, some by Ace. The latter had magnificent covers by the late, great Frank Frazetta. These three seem to be the only ones I saved.
The best single essay on ERB ever written, by the way, was this piece Gore Vidal published in Esquire in 1963:
‘There are so many things the people who take polls never get around to asking. Fascinated as we all are to know what our countrymen think of great issues (approving, disapproving, “don’t-knowing,” with that same shrewd intelligence which made a primeval wilderness bloom with Howard Johnson signs), the pollsters never get around to asking the sort of interesting personal questions our new-Athenians might be able to answer knowledgeably. For instance, how many adults have an adventure serial running in their heads? How many consciously daydream, turning on a story in which the dreamer ceases to be an employee of I.B.M. and becomes a handsome demigod moving through splendid palaces, saving maidens from monsters (or monsters from maidens: this is a jaded time). Most children tell themselves stories in which they figure as powerful figures, enjoying the pleasures not only of the adult world as they conceive it but of a world of wonders unlike dull reality. Although this sort of Mittyesque daydreaming is supposed to cease in maturity, I suggest that more adults than we suspect are bemusedly wandering about with a full Technicolor extravaganza going on in their heads. Clad in tights, rapier in hand, the daydreamers drive their Jaguars at fantastic speeds through a glittering world of adoring love objects, mingling anachronistic histories worlds with science fiction. “Captain, the time-warp’s been closed! We are now trapped in a parallel world, inhabited entirely by women, with three breasts.” Though from what we can gather about these imaginary worlds, they tend to be more Adlerian than Freudian: The motor drive is the desire not for sex (other briefer fantasies take care of that) but for power, for the ability to dominate one’s environment through physical strength. I state all this with perfect authority because I have just finished reading several books by the master of American daydreamers, Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose works today, as anyone who goes into a drugstore or looks at a newsstand can see, have suddenly returned to great popularity.’…
As wikipedia say a star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth. Other stars are visible from Earth during the night, when they are not obscured by atmospheric phenomena, appearing as a multitude of fixed luminous points because of their immense distance. Historically, the most prominent stars on the celestial sphere were grouped together into constellations and asterisms, and the brightest stars gained proper names. Extensive catalogues of starshave been assembled by astronomers, which provide standardized star designations.
But is it real that the stars we see in the nightsky are already dead ?!
Light is really,really fast*, but it still takes time to get from one place to another. When you ‘see’ anything, what you are really doing is using your eyes to detect the light that is either given off or reflected by it. If you look at the clock across the room, you’re not seeing it as it isnow, but as it was a tiny, tiny fraction of a second ago. Of course, light is so fast that over such a short distance it doesn’t really make a difference.
Now imagine looking at the Sun (do not actually look at the sun- this could potentially blind you). The light given off by the Sun travels further still- it takes about eight minutes to get to Earth, so when Earth-based telescopes look at the Sun, they’re seeing it as it was a whole eight minutes ago. Put another way, something could happen on the surface of the Sun- a sunspot pops up, for example- and we wouldn’t know about it for eight minutes.
Let’s go further out, to the next closest star to us, Proxima Centauri. That’s so far away that it takes light four years to get here (it’s four ‘light years’ away). It’s not likely to do so, but if it popped out of existence, exploded or turned into a giant frog rightnow, we wouldn’t know anything about it for another four years.
Now think about all the other stars up there- most of them are much, much further away: hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of light years away. If a star is a million light years away, and it died a million years ago, we’ll see it die now. If another star died four million years ago, but is a hundred million light years away, we’ll still be able to see it for another 96 million years.
No. Some of the stars that you can see at night may be long gone, with the light from their death yet to reach us. But plenty more are still burning bright right now, although we see them as younger than they actually are. As well as that, new stars are being born all the time- there will be many burning at this moment that we can’t see yet because their light hasn’t had time to reach us.
So yes, some are dead, but some are very much alive, and some are there but yet to be seen!