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Old Nov 2 2008, 05:55 PM   #1
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Question A question ...

... for SteveB, Kath and any other astronomers.

I was trying to imagine why, in Anne's Pern, there are no night time falls.

The only reason I could come up with is that the orbit of the Red Planet crosses inside Pern's so that all falls come from sunward.

Am I right?

Also; would the variation in falls be caused by solar flares, solar wind etc?
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Old Nov 7 2008, 02:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: A question ...

I'm only guessing, from what I'm reading in Dragonsdawn, the rogue planet is seemingly always facing Pern's dayside.

A nighttime Thread fall would be quite difficult to deal with.

For Fall vriation, solar wind and flares may affect it, as for how. I don't know. The Threads are in some sort of pod,packet or shell until it reaches a planet's atmosphere at 15,000 feet.
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Old Nov 7 2008, 04:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: A question ...

Good question, P'ter and maybe ther's a plausible explanation indeed

Too bad they are very much in evidence on Todd's Pern and that particular difference with Anne's books I find hard to explain, if one wanted to explain of course.
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Old Nov 9 2008, 08:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: A question ...

P'ter, that's a good question. The closest analogy on Earth to threadfall are the (luckily harmless!) meteor showers that the Earth encounters at intervals through the year. Each shower is usually associated with a comet. When a metor shower happens, the Earth passes close to the orbit of the comet. For this to happen, the orbit of the comet must cross inside the Earth's. Each shower appears to radiate from a particular place on the sky - it's the direction of the comet's orbit. (As an analogy, if you're crossing a one-way street all the headlights appear to come from one direction before they hit you.) But meteor showers can happen day or night - it depends on whether the radiant is above the horizon during the day or during the night.

In Pern's case the thread is associated with a planet, not a comet. Having the Red Planet's orbit crossing that of Pern would be a very bad thing. Planetary systems in which two planets have crossing orbits are very unstable. The planets would interact with each other, orbits would change and some planets might even get flung out of the system altogether; all in a timescale of perhaps a few tens of thousands of years. It's unlikely life would develop in such a system until the planets had settled down to more stable orbits. In such a planetary system you would be in constant danger of frequent bombardment not only by thread but by asteroids, comets and all kinds of junk. (The scars on the surface of the Moon are left over from the era billions of years ago when our Solar System was a much more dangerous place.)

So in the case of Pern something unusual must be going on. Rather than the thread hanging around the Red Planet's orbit it's crossing over towards Pern's orbit. It might be spiraling in towards Pern because of multiple encounters with other objects. Another possibility is that there are electromagnetic effects going on (like the ones that make the spokes in the rings of Saturn but on a larger scale), and the thread is being slowed down in its orbit by a magnetic field.

Electromagnetic effects might explain why thread falls only on the day side of Pern. T'mynn's suggestion is on the right track. If Pern has a magnetosphere, like the Earth, and the thread is electrically charged, then the thread will be constrained to follow the magnetic field lines and will be directed to particular places on the surface of Pern (rather like the particles making the aurorae on Earth are directed to the poles). The magnetic fields are affected by the solar wind from Rukbat, and they get scrunched up on the day side of Pern and drawn out on the night side of Pern (like a flag on a pole getting drawn out by a breeze). If Pern's own magnetic field was more tilted than Earth's this might generate some asymmetry between day and night.

But that's just a rather complicated guess, and it would only predict a much weaker threadfall at night, not eliminate it alltogether. Maybe there's a much simpler explanation and thread can only be released from its pod in sunlight. Let's hear it for Occam's razor.

Perhaps Kath can comment when she gets a break from baby Matthew?
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Old Nov 9 2008, 12:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: A question ...

Thank you Steven I'd be interested in anything Kath or others can come up with, too. The current problem we have is that in Anne's Pern there are no night Falls, in Todd's Pern there are! In fact, it is a plot element in several of his books and especially in his last one (Dragonheart), so we need some pretty reasoning


NB: I doubt William himself handled a razor, do Franciscans shave?
Or would the principle of his razor mean that I "shave down" the argument to: do men shave?
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Old Nov 9 2008, 01:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: A question ...

Um,are'nt you forgetting the watchwhers? Kitt Pitt said that's what they were for.
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Old Nov 9 2008, 02:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: A question ...

Thank you Steven, I was hazarding a guess at that from only Anne's descriptions of a ficitonal bio-hazard.. We don't have a microhyzoid organism like thata around. Good thing too.

The Thread theory is something that'll take me considerable time to consider before even reaching a logical conclusion. It also could be yet another 'B.A.S.S.' situation.

A question, to ponder about the Thread Pods. Outter Space's tempretures are quite cold at -300 degrees. Thread would be inert at that tempreture. Maybe their pod is an insulator that'd protect theorganisms until planet fall. The IR and UV causes a reaction in the pod to release enzymes to open up, Threads fall and start their desctruction.

Nightime falls,<Scratches head> this mystafies me. There aren't electrical lighting on Pern to help folks see these dark wriggling masses until they're literally on top of them.
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Old Nov 9 2008, 05:45 PM   #8
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Default Re: A question ...

Quote:
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Um,are'nt you forgetting the watchwhers? Kitt Pitt said that's what they were for.
Charlene, please point me to where Kitty Ping Yung said that watchwhers were for fighting Thread at nighttime falls...

They were a botched up try for more dragons... They were good for exploration of caves and for hunting tunnel snakes. Even it it were so we still have the problem that Anne's Pern 1st, 6th and 9th Passes, has no nighttime Thread 3rd Pass does.
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Old Nov 9 2008, 06:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: A question ...

Read Todd's books,Hans.
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Old Nov 9 2008, 06:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: A question ...

but Kitty Ping would not have said anything about the Watchwhers...She died before the first Dragons were hatched...Wind Blossom created the Watchwhers and according to Dragonsdawn she was the only one who was interested in them because they fawned on her (Paul Benden)....The trouble with Todd's books on Pern are that they create a version of Pern for Pass #3 that does not mesh well with Anne's versions of 1,2 and 9
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Old Nov 9 2008, 08:47 PM   #11
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Default Re: A question ...

<Scratches head> There is something about early moring or early evening fall in Dragonseye/Red Star Rising. Something related to "Sean notes" about them, and there would reflected light making them "glow" showing up so the Weyrs can flame them. Along with some dragonrider get hurt in a normal fall.

Also the first real threadfall of the Second Pass by the number 10, show that the Thread is "glowing" as they watch it fall. Its in the last part of the book, and its also the first time the dragons are fighting thread by themself at the begining of the Second Pass.

I hope this information is usful. Back to the quest.
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Old Nov 10 2008, 04:26 AM   #12
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Default Re: A question ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlene View Post
Read Todd's books,Hans.


That's what started all the trouble! My challenge still stands
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Old Nov 10 2008, 06:21 AM   #13
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Default Re: A question ...

*ponders and scratches head*

It's been awhile since I've read any of the Pern books. Except for the Moreta stories, whilst on a Quest, there's nothing that states about night-time falls in the Moreta stories so that excludes the 6th pass from stating anything about it. I honestly can't remember from 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Todd's books) and 9th passes, what was said there. What night-time activity that I do remember, seems to concern watching the stars, meetings and more meetings.
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Old Nov 10 2008, 09:23 AM   #14
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Default Re: A question ...

In my PhD viva I was accused of using "Occam's shaving brush", which is the opposite device to "Occam's razor". It allows you to wash over an issue and hide the dodgy arguments by enclosing them inside a lot of extra words.

I have realised that you can have a stable Solar System where two planets have crossing orbits, but only in a specific circumstance: (1) The planet which crosses the other orbits must be a lot less massive than the other planets; and (2) the planet ends up in a resonant orbit - that means it might go round the sun 3 times in the time taken for its nearest planet to go round twice (or some other combination of integers). This is how Pluto and Neptune are stable, even though Pluto sometimes wanders inside Neptune's orbit. The resonance means there are no close encounters between the planets - they move together as a unit.

If the night/day division of threadfall depends on the shape of Pern's magnetosphere, then perhaps something was happening to Rukbat during the period of Todd's stories? Rukbat might have been going through a phase like the "Maunder minimum", which happened to our own Sun a few centuries ago. (A phase during which almost no sunspots appeared.)

But I think Lanen has the best answer. When I mentioned this question to her she said that thread doesn't fall at night because it's Anne's world and she says so. You can't argue with that.
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Old Nov 10 2008, 09:53 AM   #15
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Default Re: A question ...

Add into the picture that the Red Star is orbitting at an angle to the ecliptic and it needn't actually 'cross' orbits.
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Old Nov 10 2008, 11:01 AM   #16
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Default Re: A question ...

True, Steven, Lanen is very right and we do invoke the BASS rule (Because Anne Says So) regularly, but it is fun to try come up with explanations if the TIT rule (Todd Invented This) is different from the BASS rule

And if Rukbat, during the 3rd (and maybe 4th and 5th) Passes (together "worth" several centuries) could have had something akin to the "Maunder Minimum" which could then have an effect on Pern's magnetosphere for several centuries, we actually could have an explanation why there are/were no nighttime Falls during the 1st and after the 5th Pass

Which in turn could explain why the whers "degenerated" into watchwhers after e.g. the 4th or 5th Pass!

It still leaves a lot to explain but I like this sort of research and explaning
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Old Nov 10 2008, 01:17 PM   #17
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Default Re: A question ...

I scanned over Dragonseye and found the reference to the first thread fall that the Weyrs were able to fight mentioned by GinnyStar....It was a PreDawn fall and Late Evening falls are also mentioned...The thread is lumionous in the dark appearing as a banner....The Weyrs also were fighting over snow......so apparently the falls can begin in the darkness but not sure if Late Evening is the latest that thread falls...
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Old Nov 10 2008, 01:35 PM   #18
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Default Re: A question ...

Quote:
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In my PhD viva I was accused of using "Occam's shaving brush", which is the opposite device to "Occam's razor". It allows you to wash over an issue and hide the dodgy arguments by enclosing them inside a lot of extra words.
Good term... I come across it a lot
If the model doesn't fit... bluster!

If thread is more like a comet's tail as ATWOP suggests, could it be affected by solar winds and things, leading to rare night time events?
(wishes that she'd read more of those posters in Aber)
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Old Nov 10 2008, 06:17 PM   #19
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Default Re: A question ...

IF it's a comet's tail then yes it can be affected my solar winds, solar flares and the like. Solar wind would blow it in a differant direction in space to land on a no predicted place than the charts would state. As for solar wind affecting thread planetside, if it reacts to magnetic feilds and floreses(Mispelled maybe), then it could glow brighter during the night like the Northern Lights on Earth. Aghhh.
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Old Nov 11 2008, 01:32 AM   #20
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Default Re: A question ...

Oh to have Keppler or Wansor available to plot out the stellar dynamics of a cometary tail. Overall though the feeling from All the Weyrs, the thread spiralled in to Pern once drawn in by gravity. I'm obviously not an astrophysicist, but the scenarios I can envision have either a cloud of material being drawn into Perns orbit, and dissipating over fifty years, which to my mind would cause continuous falling of pods for the entirety, or the tail being intersected at the orbit locations, one point for the first few years, then a second point once the red star passes. though the second point would likely have less thread pods due to solar gravity intercepting a number of the pods. means to me once every half yearheavy thread falls, then little to nothing until the second intersection.
Personally I think I'd follow the B.A.S.S. line, after all she never said that thread didn't fall at night, she just wrote about the ones during day. I agree that Todd's stuff, while nice, happy, and put Wind Blossom in a better light, by the 9th pass all the watch wher's are chained up, wings clipped, and treated like watch dogs. It doesn't fit, if thread did come down at that point, the entire planet would have been toast.
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Old Nov 12 2008, 09:24 PM   #21
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Default Re: A question ...

I don't like that the watchwhers are treated like that.
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Old Nov 13 2008, 02:57 AM   #22
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Default Re: A question ...

It could be that dragonriders, as whers got low in number (3rd pass) had to fly these falls and because the numbers were slow in rising again, by the time there were enough (if there were enough), people forgot about them, or were prizing them as guard animals that they didn't want hurt in that way. If they're bought and sold, losing one to thread that could possibly (even if it was more dangerously) fought by a dragonrider, might rankle a bit!
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Old Nov 13 2008, 09:58 AM   #23
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My mental picture is that the Red Star is on a very elongated eliptical orbit, passing from apapsis in the oort cloud to periapsis around Rukbat, which passes INSIDE Pern's orbit, with no chance of collision since it's at an angle to the ecliptic.

It is carrying a 'pay-load' of thread in stasis, captured by its gravity well.

In passing 'close' to Rukbat, it's stellar winds force a proportion of the threads to leave the Red Star's gravity well and form a comet-like trail pointing outwards towards Pern, whose gravity captures a further proportion of them.

Passage through Pern's upper atmosphere provides sufficient friction to turn the threads viable.

This all begs the question: why/how would such an organism be formed at all when the chances of it becoming viable are so miniscule? Despite it occasional successes (from ITS point of view), as chronicled by Anne, it must be counted as one of nature's failures.
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Old Nov 14 2008, 06:10 PM   #24
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Default Re: A question ...

For the Todd's books dilemna, I don't suppose it's scientifically believable if you allow the timing it abilites of the dragons, an alternate universe, or several alternate universes could have been created. If that doesn't work for you: the Red Star is a weird planet and Threadfall has many unknowns. Any possibility that for some conjunction of the planets, Thread fell at night in the Third Pass? Can't remember if it was stated incontrovertibly that it fell only during the day in the First and Second Pass. If so maybe the First Long Interval, threw off the Threadfall patterns and electromagnetic fields. Astronomy people might know how to work on that.
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Old Nov 14 2008, 09:32 PM   #25
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Hee... an alternate universe would certainly solve that problem!
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Old Nov 15 2008, 04:29 AM   #26
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Blue rider, that's exactly what we're doing here, with a lot of help of our resident scientists! Evenold me can come up with some explanation but comingup with some workable/scientific SF solution, that's the trick and the fun
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Old Nov 15 2008, 11:27 AM   #27
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Default Re: A question ...

I have enjoyed reading everyone’s theories on the Red Star and night falls. I don’t think anyone has suggested this yet, but I’m sure it’s crossed through the minds of fellow MoMers. What if night falls did actually exist and Anne just didn’t feel the need to elaborate on them. Maybe she thought the references in DragonsEye were enough.

Also when I was at Albacon and spoke with Todd during dinner, he mentioned that the main push behind his writing of Pern was to talk about points that Anne never delved into too deeply. I think this may be the case here, where as night falls did occur in Anne’s books and she choose to forgo talking about them in favor of other plot lines. I think we all could admit that threadfalls are both exciting and terrifying to read about, but what we really enjoy is all the dynamics of what happens before and after threadfalls.

What does everyone think?
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Old Nov 15 2008, 12:03 PM   #28
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Default Re: A question ...

Yhm, unicorn, Anne actually stated there were no night Falls. If it could be a case of her never writing about it, it would indeed be much easier to handle but it would still be very silyl that she would have never even mentioned nor hinted of their existence.

Todd's anwer to you seems a beautiful way out of all things of which fans will go: "I never read about this in your mothers twenty odd Pern books"

And I agree that the dynamics of what happens before and after are more interesting than the actual Falls themselves but Anne actually wrote very little about actual Threadfighting of you think about it.
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Old Nov 16 2008, 12:57 AM   #29
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Quote:
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But I think Lanen has the best answer. When I mentioned this question to her she said that thread doesn't fall at night because it's Anne's world and she says so. You can't argue with that.

Now Lanen has the best answer...and one I have used several times before myself...if Anne's says it's so...then it's so. WHo among us is going to argue with the author and her world.

Hans...I do think Anne got around to writing about thread fighting at least once in every Pern book...and those were always very exciting
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Old Nov 16 2008, 03:16 AM   #30
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Here's a mad idea .....

if they ran out of firestone they could empty buckets of water on it (from above, of course) and drown it. LOL
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Old Nov 16 2008, 05:23 AM   #31
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The simplest idea I had for no night falls was that thread ovoids lie static along the path of Pern's orbit, and that the planet sweeps its way through the cloud of them. Midnight to noon on the planet would lie directly beneath the swept-out region of space, but if there's, say, a six hour time-lag for the Thread to make it to the ground and some entrainment in the uppermost parts of the atmosphere, then by the time it reaches the surface it'd only fall from dawn to dusk, approximately, with more twilight falls in winter.

I had no explanation for the pattern of falls though - for that, I think you have to invoke the usual hand-waving standby of Magnetic Fields, the astronomer's answer to everything they don't have a good model for.
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Old Nov 16 2008, 12:30 PM   #32
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Welcome back Kath. I hope you're well. Perhaps one of those N-body simulations used to model the formation of planets from a cloud of dust could be used to make threadfall predictions on Pern?

Sometimes astronomers use magnetic fields to explain unexpected observations and sometimes they use dark energy.
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Old Nov 16 2008, 12:48 PM   #33
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You've forgotten the cosmic rays!
(Or is that just a condensed matter physics excuse, as its what they blame spikes in Raman spectroscopy on )
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Old Nov 17 2008, 05:47 AM   #34
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Here's a mad idea .....

if they ran out of firestone they could empty buckets of water on it (from above, of course) and drown it. LOL
nah, not NEARLY as entertaining as dragonriders flying fall CATCHING the thread in the buckets.

still having trouble picturing how a cometary tail of even density could cause the thread to fall in even time increments at all.
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Old Nov 17 2008, 09:05 AM   #35
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The spacing of the thread falls could be due to the Red Star having an asymetrical rotating magnetoshere.
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Old Nov 17 2008, 09:30 AM   #36
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The spacing of the thread falls could be due to the Red Star having an asymetrical rotating magnetoshere.
Hmmm... There has to be at least some kind of clockwork component to the distribution of thread ovoids in Pernese space, but given that the Red Star isn't going to be close to Pern except at the start of the pass, however it works it needs to bunch the ovoids together well enough for the bunches to persist for pretty much the full Pass, aside from the odd perturbation from other bodies that led to Thread falling out of pattern.
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Old Nov 17 2008, 06:35 PM   #37
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This all begs the question: why/how would such an organism be formed at all when the chances of it becoming viable are so miniscule? Despite it occasional successes (from ITS point of view), as chronicled by Anne, it must be counted as one of nature's failures.
Who says that they only become viable when entering Pern's atmosphere? In my point of view, this is the death of Thread, which is coincidentally also the death of anything it touches.

Thread dies very quickly, it simply eats itself to death. Even when it burrows, and supposedly propagates, it still dies quickly.

It seems to me that this is a space-faring organism, its natural environment is the Oort cloud. In AtWoP it shows that it is a functioning organism in space. When the Red Star passes through, it pulls it out of its natural environment, and eventually encounters Pern where its outer shell is worn away and spills out its innards, which fall as Thread.
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Old Nov 17 2008, 06:53 PM   #38
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In that case, I wonder what its life cycle is in its correct setting
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Old Nov 17 2008, 07:09 PM   #39
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Didn't AIVAS say something about their makeup indicated some form of intelligence? Maybe they interact telepathically.
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Old Nov 18 2008, 04:42 AM   #40
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W - e - l - l : perhaps the Red Star's apapsis is BEYOND the oort cloud and there's a gas giant out there on which thread fulfills the niche occupied by ants on Earth. The planet's viability as a habitat would probably have to depend on a high rate of geothermal activity.
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