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Author Topic: Dune  (Read 6578 times)

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Dune
« Reply #75 on: May 03, 2022, 12:47:00 PM »

The whole point of sweating is to cool the body via evaporation. Since the stillsuit collects your sweat, this isn't happening.

I think it is happening. It’s collecting water vapor from your breath as well as from your skin. Of course if you wonder how that actually works then you’re into territory where the author probably did not go. Similar to  “how on earth does the sand worm extract energy from sand”. But the still suit at least seems more plausible than many other things in the books.
Yeah, Frank dropped the ball on sandworm ecology despite its importance to the plot. It's never explained where the energy in the sandworm ecology comes from. You can speculate that the sand plankton are photosynthetic organisms on which the sandworms feed for nourishment and energy, but this is never spelled out. However, an invasive ecology where all trophic levels are composed of different life stages of the same species is extremely unlikely to evolve and it's entirely possible that the sandworms were engineered since it's later revealed they aren't native to Arrakis.

The Command & Conquer series got some mileage out of that idea: how would a civilization react to xenoforming unobtainium showing up? how did it end up there in the first place? Unsurprising it was made by the same company that did the Dune II RTS.

Premier

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Re: Dune
« Reply #76 on: May 03, 2022, 01:08:05 PM »
I keep thinking there's no way they'd have thrown lasgun fire around so indiscriminately in the books.  Not a chance, shields are ubiquitous and you're gonna hit one and every house in the landsrad is going to shriek "NUKE" and hit the button.

I'm not sure the second sentence there is correct. I mean, yes, the Great Convention prohibits the use of atomics, and everyone will gang up on you if you break it... but my understanding is that the proscription only extends to proper, actual nukes, and shield-lasgun reactions don't fall under the convention. In no small part because they can happen too easily by accident, and there's also the very ambiguous question of which side should be held responsible.

Or did Frank Herbert explicitly state that reaction explosions are also forbidden?
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Ratman_tf

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Re: Dune
« Reply #77 on: May 03, 2022, 04:44:33 PM »

The whole point of sweating is to cool the body via evaporation. Since the stillsuit collects your sweat, this isn't happening.

I think it is happening. It’s collecting water vapor from your breath as well as from your skin. Of course if you wonder how that actually works then you’re into territory where the author probably did not go. Similar to  “how on earth does the sand worm extract energy from sand”. But the still suit at least seems more plausible than many other things in the books.

As I understand it, the worms are suposed to be eating sand plankton and sandtrout.
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Stephen Tannhauser

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Re: Dune
« Reply #78 on: May 03, 2022, 04:55:39 PM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales
You can speculate that the sand plankton are photosynthetic organisms on which the sandworms feed for nourishment and energy, but this is never spelled out. However, an invasive ecology where all trophic levels are composed of different life stages of the same species is extremely unlikely to evolve....

Quote from: Ratman_tf
As I understand it, the worms are supposed to be eating sand plankton and sandtrout.

The sandtrout at least I know are specifically named as the larval form of the sandworm, so it seems unlikely you could run a sustainable ecology on that kind of cannibalism.

As for the sand plankton, it's superficially plausible to point to blue whales as massive creatures which can sustain themselves on plankton, but the two problems there are (1) blue whales, at around 30m long, are a fraction the size of sandworms which have been reported up to 150m long ("specimens up to four hundred and fifty feet in the deep desert"), and (2) it takes vastly more energy to move through sand than it does through water, barring some exotic kind of mass-disruption ability that Herbert never talked about.

If I were designing sandworms today I'd give them some kind of natural inbuilt organic nuclear reactor and have them feed off deposits of pitchblende in the planet's crust. (I always imagined Godzilla to run on the same kind of power.)  EDIT:  Alternately, you could postulate that maybe sandworms are far lighter and lower-mass for their size than one would expect -- maybe, like sharks, their skeletal structure is all cartilage with nanocomposite strength, and much of their internal size is nothing but air and gas bladders.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2022, 05:12:35 PM by Stephen Tannhauser »
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Ratman_tf

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Re: Dune
« Reply #79 on: May 03, 2022, 05:59:11 PM »
Quote from: BoxCrayonTales
You can speculate that the sand plankton are photosynthetic organisms on which the sandworms feed for nourishment and energy, but this is never spelled out. However, an invasive ecology where all trophic levels are composed of different life stages of the same species is extremely unlikely to evolve....

Quote from: Ratman_tf
As I understand it, the worms are supposed to be eating sand plankton and sandtrout.

The sandtrout at least I know are specifically named as the larval form of the sandworm, so it seems unlikely you could run a sustainable ecology on that kind of cannibalism.

I'd think it would mostly be sandplankton with the occasional sandtrout getting gulped down. Most of them spend their time living in those communal bubbles around water, which the sandworms avoid.
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Trond

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Re: Dune
« Reply #80 on: May 03, 2022, 06:00:48 PM »
Yes, sand trout are supposed to be larval worms. The closest thing in nature to the way they congregate to form a worm would actually be cellular slime molds.

I may be wrong, but can't remember any mention sand plankton in the books. I actually think it was mentioned somewhere in the books that it extracts energy from the sand itself (1st book? It was a scene with a close encounter with a worm).

Ratman_tf

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Re: Dune
« Reply #81 on: May 03, 2022, 06:22:33 PM »
Yes, sand trout are supposed to be larval worms. The closest thing in nature to the way they congregate to form a worm would actually be cellular slime molds.

I may be wrong, but can't remember any mention sand plankton in the books. I actually think it was mentioned somewhere in the books that it extracts energy from the sand itself (1st book? It was a scene with a close encounter with a worm).

I need to get a replacement copy of the book. :( It looks like the sand plankton is mentioned in Appendix I, Ecology of Dune.

https://www.reddit.com/r/dune/comments/fsxg73/sand_plankton_origin/
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BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Dune
« Reply #82 on: May 04, 2022, 02:07:25 PM »
Attached is an overview of the canonical lifecycle.

If I were designing sandworms today I'd give them some kind of natural inbuilt organic nuclear reactor and have them feed off deposits of pitchblende in the planet's crust. (I always imagined Godzilla to run on the same kind of power.)  EDIT:  Alternately, you could postulate that maybe sandworms are far lighter and lower-mass for their size than one would expect -- maybe, like sharks, their skeletal structure is all cartilage with nanocomposite strength, and much of their internal size is nothing but air and gas bladders.
In the books the worms are described as having an "internal furnace" that produces measurable amounts of light and heat (as well as large amounts of oxygen, which makes no sense because oxygen is consumed to power animal metabolisms), so an organic nuclear reactor sounds about as plausible as everything else about their biology.

Quote
EDIT:  Alternately, you could postulate that maybe sandworms are far lighter and lower-mass for their size than one would expect -- maybe, like sharks, their skeletal structure is all cartilage with nanocomposite strength, and much of their internal size is nothing but air and gas bladders.
Their skin is harder than sand so maybe something like that is the case. The adult form is allergic to water for some reason (the wiki says it speeds up their metabolism to fatal degrees but I don't remember the books mention this) so their physiology is probably very alien.

David Johansen

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Re: Dune
« Reply #83 on: May 04, 2022, 02:33:02 PM »
I always thought the "internal furnace" was basically a hydrogen fuel cell.  Yes that eats up carbon dioxide and produces water.  But some other process like digestion produces the oxygen.  Dune has oxygen because of the sandworm cycle.  Possibly, alternately, it's the sand plankton which produce the oxygen.  It's clearly stated in the books that Arrakis was a water world before the coming of the sand worm ecology which "encapsulates" all the water, particularly in the sand trout phase.
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Trond

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Re: Dune
« Reply #84 on: May 04, 2022, 06:13:39 PM »

In the books the worms are described as having an "internal furnace" that produces measurable amounts of light and heat (as well as large amounts of oxygen, which makes no sense because oxygen is consumed to power animal metabolisms), so an organic nuclear reactor sounds about as plausible as everything else about their biology.

Yes, that I do remember! My thoughts also went to nuclear power for a second when I first read that maybe 30 years ago. Add this to the "sand plankton" being basically in a cycle* with the sand worms themselves, and people being sold on the "sophisticated ecology" of the series, the whole thing of course makes no sense from a biological point of view. So my comment “how on earth does the sand worm extract energy from sand” is still basically answered by "magic". Although Herbert managed to make it complicated enough that a lot of people sort of bought that there was an "ecology" behind it all**. I guess that shows his talent.

* there could be a cycle of nutrients, but what kind of energy drives it?
**to beat my own drum a little I actually never bought into that part, but then I was always more interested in biology than most people, even as a kid.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 06:15:52 PM by Trond »