"I just can't be politic. I never learned how to do that and I don't like doing that. I think it's false."
This very puzzling item is introduced early in the story; it is not until mid-way through that the reader discovers the incredible purpose of this device. The rhythmic vibration produced when a thumper is placed in the sand calls one of the enormous sandworms of Dune.
Why would the Fremen want to call this fearsome creature, from which all others on the planet fled? Read the book for the astonishing answer.
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'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'
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'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'
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I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.
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Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.
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"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'
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'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'
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'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'
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'... a sound tape to supply the noise'
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'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'
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