"I suspect that religion is a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. And that's one of the interesting things about contact with other intelligences: we could see what role, if any, religion plays in their development."
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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