Why do stars die?

Steve Bailey baileys at ix.netcom.com
Thu Nov 2 17:57:14 EST 1995


There seems to be an awful lot of anthropomorphizing about evolution
going on here.  Stars die because sooner or later they run out of fuel.
They reach finite limits.  People die because sooner or later they
suffer a critical systems failure.  Meat bodies only offer so much
resistance to physical forces and sooner or later a finite limit is
reached (too much fatty deposit on arterial linings in the heart, too
much wear and tear on arterial linings in the brain, one too many free
radicals causing one too many DNA copy errors leading to a cancer, and
so on).

Every physical system faces physical limitations.  I don't see
evolution selecting for short lives.  I see evolution gradually
accepting longer and longer lives.  We used to die because lions chased
us when we had the flu or a broken leg.  Later we died because rats
carried fleas that carried the plague.  Now we die from cancer or heart
disease.  In a few centuries, maybe we'll conquer aging and accidental
death will be the predominant problem (and people will be posting
answers to the question, "Why are there accidents?").

All physical systems have limits and sooner or later every physical
system reaches it.  When that occurs, the system ceases to function. 
And that is why we die and why stars die and why volcanos die.




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