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Now, can we think it likely that so many tubes or corridors or lanes through the stars should be pointed actually dead straight at our poor little Earth, or even at our tiny solar system? Here in this room the corridors all point at the lecturer, because he is a very important person. If there were no lecturer, I suppose you would all go away, wouldn't you? No lecturer, no audience! But we cannot think that our Earth, or our Sun, is of any particular importance to the audience of the stars—millions and thousands of millions of them, mostly far bigger and brighter than our Sun. In times gone by our ancestors thought that the Earth dominated the Universe; but we have gradually learnt modesty: nowadays we cannot think that the Earth and Sun are of any particular importance.

No! we must seek some other explanation of the blank patches; and it is not very difficult to find one. I can easily make a patch with no children visible by holding a screen in front of my eye. If the screen is near enough, quite a small one will do. A threepenny bit shuts out quite a lot of you. And similarly some kind of a screen, of dark nebulous matter, say, will easily explain any of these dark patches.

Hence we come to the conclusion that not only are there stars of the last degree of faintness, but there are in the heavens bodies of some kind not shining at all—"dogs in the manger," which not only do not shine themselves, but stop the light of other stars from reaching us. I don't know whether the argument seems to you convincing, but perhaps one or two other pictures may help it. Fig. 83