The God Emperor and the Sandworms Cycle

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Postby A Thing of Eternity » 03 Aug 2008 15:01

Crysknife wrote:And AToE, that's why I put the "at least at an older age" in my comment. They may start from one sandtrout, but as they age they are composed of many. Perhaps they pick up sandtrout from the sand as they age?


I would think it more likely that the sandtrout are formed within the worm like sperm.
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Postby Crysknife » 03 Aug 2008 15:07

A Thing of Eternity wrote:
Crysknife wrote:And AToE, that's why I put the "at least at an older age" in my comment. They may start from one sandtrout, but as they age they are composed of many. Perhaps they pick up sandtrout from the sand as they age?


I would think it more likely that the sandtrout are formed within the worm like sperm.


I would say the sandtrout are more like cells in the human body and that most of the worm is made from them. The sperm would be sandplankton, perhaps produced inside of sandtout.
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Postby Omphalos » 03 Aug 2008 17:37

Crysknife wrote:The little maker referred to in Dune is actually the sandtrout. So yes, the surviving sandtrout after a spice blow hibernate for six years till they become a small worm. Perhaps hibernate wasn't the right word......Kynes calls it a "semidormant cyst-hibernation".

And AToE, that's why I put the "at least at an older age" in my comment. They may start from one sandtrout, but as they age they are composed of many. So are you saying that the worms convert their mass to sandtrout instantly when they hit water or spice laced water, yet they are not made of sandtrout?

Perhaps they pick up sandtrout from the sand as they age.

So now we have the cycle(emphasis mine):

Now they had the circular relationship: little maker(sandtrout) to pre-spice mass;
little maker(sandtrout) to shai-hulud; shai-hulud to scatter the spice upon which fed
microscopic creatures called sand plankton; the sand plankton, food for shaihulud,
growing, burrowing, becoming little makers.(sandtrout)


Ah! Yea. OK. he did use those words, did he not? I was thinking that ws what you meant, but I thought that was more of a metamorphosis/cocoon stage. but he did say hibernation.

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Postby SandChigger » 03 Aug 2008 19:36

A Thing of Eternity wrote:I have many sperm, but I was only made from one, and though I have millions inside me right now, I'm not composed of sperm.

And releasing them is a little like dying...or disintegration, right? :D

Um...if one thing goes in and another comes out, it's definitely some form of metamorphosis. Estivation would probably have been a better word than hibernation, all things considered...but maybe FH just opted for the more familiar term.

Also, don't forget the qualifying "semi-dormant". ;)
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Postby A Thing of Eternity » 03 Aug 2008 19:44

SandChigger wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:I have many sperm, but I was only made from one, and though I have millions inside me right now, I'm not composed of sperm.

And releasing them is a little like dying...or disintegration, right? :D

Um...if one thing goes in and another comes out, it's definitely some form of metamorphosis. Estivation would probably have been a better word than hibernation, all things considered...but maybe FH just opted for the more familiar term.

Also, don't forget the qualifying "semi-dormant". ;)


So you're saying sandworms are made out of sandtrout or not?
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Postby SandChigger » 03 Aug 2008 20:15

:wink:
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Postby SandChigger » 03 Aug 2008 20:44

Textual analysis!

The few survivors entered a semidormant cyst-hibernation to emerge in six years as small (about three meters long) sandworms. Of these, only a few avoided their larger brothers and pre-spice water pockets to emerge into maturity as the giant shai-hulud.

An important point to note here is that an organism basically hand-sized (limited mass) grows and changes into a three-meter-long sandworm. That's probably why FH added "semi-dormant": the metamorphosing sandtrout-worm is absorbing mass in some way, from some source...maybe sandplankton? (I'm assuming here that FH at least was more familiar with the concept of the Conservation of Matter than his son or the other hack, so this is necessary.)

I think I suggested somewhere that more than one sandtrout might enter the cyst since it's pointed out in CoD that the sandtrout are haploid, having only one set of chromosomes. Two joining together would give them a full set.

Maybe when a worm becomes too old and approaches death, it's body naturally begins to reorganize itself into sandtrout and the dying worm seeks out a water source for them? If that is correct, then drowning a mature but not decrepit worm would simply kill it, leaving no sandtrout, because it hadn't begun to form them yet. (Was the worm killed in the House books described as old? I forget. If not, here's something else they've probably gotten wrong.)

Leto is, of course, a special case: originally a human encased in sandtrout. The majority of the mass of his body is probably something created by the sandtrout that make up his outer layer. Or, since we know that sandtrout do propagate, maybe the growing worm part of him is composed of new sandtrout generated by the outer layer and undergoing the worm metamorphosis in some weird variation as a result of the human-sandtrout symbiotic environment?

It would be nice to come up with a coherent picture of all of this before they try to establish something silly in Letotard of Dung.
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Postby A Thing of Eternity » 03 Aug 2008 21:02

The idea of that books scares me more than all others.
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Postby Crysknife » 03 Aug 2008 21:12

I would say an old worm has to be close to some kind of metamorphosis. Odrade mentions this in Heretics a few times. I agree that subjecting a young worm to water would just kill it.

Also, I would agree that more than one sandtrout entered the cyst-hibernation together. It would be a dual reproductive role for the sandtrout. A prespice mass was to create the milk(spice) for the baby sandplankton, which may or may not have been conceived in the same prespice mass. Then the surviving members of the spice blow combined to form small worms that would mill the soil to spread the spice that would feed more sandplankton and sandtrout to start the next cycle.

This would explain why it was necessary to have spice-laced water on Chapterhouse. The spice fed the resulting sandtrout from the old worm, and sandplankton and more spice were made in the resulting prespice mass, thus beginning the new cycle. This would also explain one reason why the worms were never transplanted....it would have cost a fortune to feed the sandtrout enough spice to start the cycle on another world.....no one could afford it except large factions. And would they be willing to ever spend that much on a guess? Not till Chapterhouse it seems.
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Postby SandChigger » 04 Aug 2008 01:47

Frank never really tells us much about the sand plankton. From the "circular relationship" quote we know that they develop into sandtrout. We also know that the adult worms eat them, probably much as whales feed on real plankton on Earth...just without the baleen teeth.

We know that sandtrout propagate in some manner. Until now I've just imagined them as undergoing some sort of fission process, like an amoeba. But what if instead they create and release bursts of sand plankton into the surrounding sands while they're injecting their metabolic wastes into their encapsulated water? (Aren't the larvae of some types of coral mobile?)

I've also assumed that the sandtrout might nibble on the sand plankton as well, but if they're sandtrout young, that would seem a bit counterproductive. (Not that there aren't plenty of examples of adults eating young of their own species.) Maybe FH's description of the sandtrout as half-plant/half-animal plays a role here and the sandtrout are plant-like in absorbing nutrients from the surrounding sands? (I'm still not ready to embrace Sibylle Hechtel's sulfur-vent-loving/fungus-farming sandtrout as described in her article in The Science of Dune. ;) )

Hmmm....
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Postby Tleilax Master B » 04 Aug 2008 13:54

SandChigger wrote:Textual analysis!

The few survivors entered a semidormant cyst-hibernation to emerge in six years as small (about three meters long) sandworms. Of these, only a few avoided their larger brothers and pre-spice water pockets to emerge into maturity as the giant shai-hulud.

An important point to note here is that an organism basically hand-sized (limited mass) grows and changes into a three-meter-long sandworm. That's probably why FH added "semi-dormant": the metamorphosing sandtrout-worm is absorbing mass in some way, from some source...maybe sandplankton? (I'm assuming here that FH at least was more familiar with the concept of the Conservation of Matter than his son or the other hack, so this is necessary.)

I think I suggested somewhere that more than one sandtrout might enter the cyst since it's pointed out in CoD that the sandtrout are haploid, having only one set of chromosomes. Two joining together would give them a full set.

Maybe when a worm becomes too old and approaches death, it's body naturally begins to reorganize itself into sandtrout and the dying worm seeks out a water source for them? If that is correct, then drowning a mature but not decrepit worm would simply kill it, leaving no sandtrout, because it hadn't begun to form them yet. (Was the worm killed in the House books described as old? I forget. If not, here's something else they've probably gotten wrong.)

Leto is, of course, a special case: originally a human encased in sandtrout. The majority of the mass of his body is probably something created by the sandtrout that make up his outer layer. Or, since we know that sandtrout do propagate, maybe the growing worm part of him is composed of new sandtrout generated by the outer layer and undergoing the worm metamorphosis in some weird variation as a result of the human-sandtrout symbiotic environment?

It would be nice to come up with a coherent picture of all of this before they try to establish something silly in Letotard of Dung.


I think from the quote chigger provided above one sandtrout equals one worm. Note it says "The few survivors entered a semidormant cyst-hibernation to emerge in six years as small (about three meters long) sandworms." Plural. So we can say with some degree of certainty that the few survivors don't all combine to form a worm. Perhaps they pair up as chigger suggests; but they can't all combine into one worm because it clearly states a plural outcome.

As far as being haploid, chigger's proposition certainly is a logical alternative. However, algae also have a haploid life cycle and it doesn't work in quite the same way as a combination of gametes does in most animals. Individual starts out as a diploidzygote. The zygote goes through a meisosis and then develops into haploid spores. Meiosis produces four cells from each zygote and these four cells can be like spores (or some other structure depending on the actual organism--I believe, don't quote me, it works a little different between algae and some fungi). The four cells would then go through mitosis and become the organism. What's important here is that in this example, its asexual.


Perhaps a sandtrout enters into the cyst state, and at that time meisosis occurs within the organism itself to produce two gametes. Those combine within the cyst state and mitosis begins to form a new organism--a sandworm. This would require some sort of mutation for the chronosomal code to be different, because the four haploid cells would combine to form an organism identical the original. Remember in plants meiosis results in the formation of haploid cells that can divide vegetatively without undergoing fertilization. In this scenario, in fact, its possible that the sand plankton start out as the diploidzygote, and eventually split into the haploid which would theoretically create two sandtrout.

Incidently, addressing your earlier question SC, in the House series Rabban's sandworm distintegrates, but the "reamers of dune" explain it off on the FAQ like such:

FAQ: In the prequels when Rabban kills a worm it disintegrates completely, but in the DUNE classic, Kynes says that every worm segment has a life of its own and that, barring atomics, no explosive can destroy a worm completely.

Their absurd answer: The original novels establish that when an ancient worm is close to death it prepares to fission and disintegrate. Rabban's worm was very old and near its reproductive-death stage. It broke apart into separate ring segments, according to the worms' reproductive cycle, as established by Frank Herbert.


I don't recall it turning into sandtrout.
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Postby SandChigger » 04 Aug 2008 19:54

Ah, but it does. Sorry, I was too lazy yesterday to look for this:

Kynes stepped forward to look at the encrusted skin, at its segments, and wondered how he might go about dissecting and analyzing the specimen. Certainly Rabban couldn't object to that? If necessary, Kynes would invoke his assignment from the Emperor to make the man understand. But as he approached closer, intending to touch it, he saw that the skin of the old worm was shimmering, moving, shifting. The beast itself wasn't still alive—its nerve functions had ceased even to twitch...and yet its outer layers trembled and shifted, as if melting.

While Kynes stared in amazement, a rain of translucent cellular flaps dripped off the hulk of the old worm, like scales shed to the churned sand, where they vanished.

"What's going on?" Rabban cried, his face purpling. Before his eyes the worm seemed to be evaporating. The skin sloughed off into tiny flopping amoeba-like patches that jiggled and then burrowed into the sand like molten solder. The ancient behemoth slumped into the desert.

In the end, only skeletal, cartilaginous ribs and milky teeth were left. Then even these remains sank slowly, dissolving into mounds of loose gelatin covered by sand.

The Harkonnen troops stepped back to a safer distance.

To Kynes, it seemed as if he had seen a thousand years of decay in
only a few seconds. Accelerated entropy. The hungry desert seemed eager to swallow every shred of evidence, to conceal the fact that a human had defeated a sandworm.

As Kynes thought about it, more in confusion and growing amazement than in dismay at losing all chance of dissecting the specimen, he wondered just how strange the life cycle of these magnificent beasts must be.

He had so much to learn about Arrakis....

They make a fuss before the passage I quote here about the worm being "ancient". But I don't see anything about the FAQ's "separate ring segments". In fact, the phrase "ring segment" doesn't even occur in my HA file. (Unless they mean this: "The sequenced bomb ripped through the internal channels of the worm, blasting open its gut and splitting its armored segments." Splitting its segments and splitting apart its segments are two different things, no?)

Either way, the scene is full of more magical "ooh, watch it dissolve" bullshit. :roll:
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Postby Freakzilla » 04 Aug 2008 20:20

Are y'all talking about this?

In the prequels when Rabban kills a worm it disintegrates completely, but in the DUNE classic, Kynes says that every worm segment has a life of its own and that, barring atomics, no explosive can destroy a worm completely.

The original novels establish that when an ancient worm is close to death it prepares to fission and disintegrate. Rabban's worm was very old and near its reproductive-death stage. It broke apart into separate ring segments, according to the worms' reproductive cycle, as established by Frank Herbert.


http://www.dunenovels.com/FAQ.html
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Postby Worm » 04 Aug 2008 21:56

Okay, I think I am getting some sense made of this. Plankton to sandtrout, also known as little makers (thanks for helping me understand that, I never did figure it out till now). Sandtrout that survive the spice blow go dormant and change into small worms.

Now, here’s where I think we can extrapolate two different versions of worm growth.

One - In a ‘normal’ worm, it grows and as it grows, it produces more sandtrout, similar to that of skin cells (the shape of them even resemble skin cells) on the outer part of the body, creating the armor-like plating. Once a worm comes to its reproductive stage, it is very old (ancient). As it dies, all the skin cells, which are individual sandtrout, revert back to individual sandtrout and return to the desert sand to start anew. This would seem to create an overabundance of sandtrout in the wild, what with plankton AND dying worms releasing an awful lot of trout into the sand. But this is necessary because during a spice blow, many trout die. So this continues the cycle.

Two – A stunted worm is a worm that cannot produce ‘skin cell’ sandtrout and therefore is stuck at a maximum length of 9 meters I think it is. I believe the evidence for this thinking is that when a stunted worm is drowned for the spice of life ceremony, no mention is made of it disintegrating into individual sandtrout in the drowning pool, it just dies.

It makes sense to me, and even if someone disagrees, I feel I understand the whole worm-trout-plankton cycle for the first time.
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Postby Crysknife » 04 Aug 2008 22:34

I think the stunted worm is probably similar in every way to the larger worms, but when the fremen drown it, it isn't at the point of metamorphosis. The Minor Erg can be seen to be isolated and perhaps this allowed for a cycle to evolve that created smaller worms, just like on islands animals tend to evolve into smaller forms. Kynes did call it a "primitive form" of shai-hulud. Maybe the Minor Erg is the birth place of all worms?
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Postby SandChigger » 05 Aug 2008 00:28

Um, no: remember, according to CoD, they're not native to Arrakis. (One of FH's uncanny, lucky, almost prescient world-building decisions, since real-world astronomy has since shown that the Canopus system is too young—and won't last long enough—to produce life.)

If you look at the occurrences of "stunted" in Dune

There would be a small shai-hulud in this place, a creature no more than nine meters long, kept stunted and trapped by surrounding water ditches.

the rare "stunted worm" of the Minor Erg

The "stunted worm" is a primitive form of shai-hulud that reaches a length of only about nine meters.

the first, from the main text, and second, from the appendix, almost seem to imply that it's the environment that restricts the worm's growth. We might want to discount the "primitive form"; I'm not entirely convinced now that it means a different species of worm.
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Postby Freakzilla » 05 Aug 2008 09:16

SandChigger wrote:Um, no: remember, according to CoD, they're not native to Arrakis. (One of FH's uncanny, lucky, almost prescient world-building decisions, since real-world astronomy has since shown that the Canopus system is too young—and won't last long enough—to produce life.)

If you look at the occurrences of "stunted" in Dune

There would be a small shai-hulud in this place, a creature no more than nine meters long, kept stunted and trapped by surrounding water ditches.

the rare "stunted worm" of the Minor Erg

The "stunted worm" is a primitive form of shai-hulud that reaches a length of only about nine meters.

the first, from the main text, and second, from the appendix, almost seem to imply that it's the environment that restricts the worm's growth. We might want to discount the "primitive form"; I'm not entirely convinced now that it means a different species of worm.


Technically, the sandtrout aren't native to Arrakis. Leto II doesn't say someone brought sandworms to Arrakis, he says someone brought sandtrout.
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Postby Crysknife » 05 Aug 2008 10:44

Well, you can't expect an organism that isn't native to a place to not evolve...that's just what I was pointing out. So the Minor Erg could be the "birthplace" of that particular subspecies of worm. But if the worms are kept stunted by the fremen, then the "primitive" term really has no meaning here.

But the "kept stunted" part is in reference to the inside of a sietch, not in the open desert, so they could still be a subspecies.
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Postby Worm » 05 Aug 2008 11:24

That's right Chig, thanks for reminding me of the forced stunting. That means that there is still a minimum size a worm must be before it can shed sandtrout at the moment of its dying. I think the last place Fremen would want to set loose sandtrout would be anywhere near a water cache.
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Postby Freakzilla » 05 Aug 2008 11:43

Worm wrote:That's right Chig, thanks for reminding me of the forced stunting. That means that there is still a minimum size a worm must be before it can shed sandtrout at the moment of its dying. I think the last place Fremen would want to set loose sandtrout would be anywhere near a water cache.


I think that's why they always stocked their qanats and cisterns with predator fish.

Probably the Northern Snakehead:

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Postby Lisan Al-Gaib » 05 Aug 2008 16:55

Crysknife wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:
Crysknife wrote:And AToE, that's why I put the "at least at an older age" in my comment. They may start from one sandtrout, but as they age they are composed of many. Perhaps they pick up sandtrout from the sand as they age?


I would think it more likely that the sandtrout are formed within the worm like sperm.


I would say the sandtrout are more like cells in the human body and that most of the worm is made from them. The sperm would be sandplankton, perhaps produced inside of sandtout.


I agree with you.

When I read the scenes of the sandworm or Leto II melting with the contact to the water, the worm seem to be composed by the sandtrouts, like your own cells.

I'm not with the books, but I remember reading Frank saying that the adult worm is a aggregate of little sandtrouts. I think it was in Heretics.
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Postby Tleilax Master B » 05 Aug 2008 17:22

"Like" cells? That just doesn't make any sense to me. I assume you guys mean that in the broadest sense of interconnected-to-form-an-organism. In particular, how does a half plant-half animal become all animal. It doesn't make any sense that they would interconnect to form an animal. I would be much more comfortable with the ideas that 1) they develop on or within the worm during its life cycle or 2) they are picked up along the way and are attached like parasites.

Are you suggesting that in the cyst state, the sandtrout continue to divide and multiply then form together to make a small worm? Once you are in the small worm state, how do the additional sandtrout get generated? And what accounts for the teeth, skeletal rings, internal organs, etc?
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Postby Freakzilla » 05 Aug 2008 17:27

Tleilax Master B wrote:"Like" cells? That just doesn't make any sense to me. I assume you guys mean that in the broadest sense of interconnected-to-form-an-organism. In particular, how does a half plant-half animal become all animal. It doesn't make any sense that they would interconnect to form an animal. I would be much more comfortable with the ideas that 1) they develop on or within the worm during its life cycle or 2) they are picked up along the way and are attached like parasites.

Are you suggesting that in the cyst state, the sandtrout continue to divide and multiply then form together to make a small worm? Once you are in the small worm state, how do the additional sandtrout get generated? And what accounts for the teeth, skeletal rings, internal organs, etc?


How does our single zygote cell multiply and change into muscle, skeletal and nervous cells?
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Postby Omphalos » 05 Aug 2008 18:57

Freakzilla wrote:
Tleilax Master B wrote:"Like" cells? That just doesn't make any sense to me. I assume you guys mean that in the broadest sense of interconnected-to-form-an-organism. In particular, how does a half plant-half animal become all animal. It doesn't make any sense that they would interconnect to form an animal. I would be much more comfortable with the ideas that 1) they develop on or within the worm during its life cycle or 2) they are picked up along the way and are attached like parasites.

Are you suggesting that in the cyst state, the sandtrout continue to divide and multiply then form together to make a small worm? Once you are in the small worm state, how do the additional sandtrout get generated? And what accounts for the teeth, skeletal rings, internal organs, etc?


How does our single zygote cell multiply and change into muscle, skeletal and nervous cells?


There is a difference between one creature growing, and a symbiosis whose two different genetics are swapping and turning into one another.

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A Thing of Eternity
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Postby A Thing of Eternity » 05 Aug 2008 19:59

I'm fine with the idea of there being sandtrout within the sandworm somewhere, ready to release upon death, but the idea that sandworms are made out of sandtrout, or pick them up as parasites doesn't work for me.
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