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In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we learn that changelings consist of a morphogenic enzyme, made from specialized macromolecules that give them their shapeshifting ability.

When changelings join the Great Link, they immerse themselves into a continuous pool of this enzyme. If a particular consciousness (that is, if a particular changeling) wishes to exit the Link, how much of the enzyme must leave the link with that consciousness?

Basis for question: Consciousness aside, information (i.e. the changeling's memory) requires physical storage space. From a hardware point of view, what is the minimum number of morphogenic molecules required to store or transport all of Odo's memories?

The natural second part of the question is:

As a changeling acquires further experiences and memories, does the minimum amount of morphogenic enzyme required to support its consciousness and memories (without data loss) increase accordingly?

  • "When you return to The Link, what will become of the entity I'm talking to right now?" "The drop becomes the ocean." "And if you choose to take solid form again?" "The ocean becomes a drop." - The implication is that where changelings are concerned, individual consciousness is largely illusory. – Valorum Mar 8 '15 at 23:10
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    Poetic. :-) Consciousness may be illusory, but when Odo enters the Link, he enters with memories. When he leaves, he leaves with (at least) his original memories, well intact. How much fluid is required to store those? – Praxis Mar 8 '15 at 23:18
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    @Praxis Looks like at most one bucket-full, or the size of Troi's mom's apron. – Chahk Mar 9 '15 at 18:32
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The only thing in Alpha cannon that may give a hint is The Ship(DS9:s5e02) where a changeling dies, and Kilana takes a sample of the remains in a small vial. If the changelings memories could potentially be recovered from just that small sample then their memory is incredible redundant and distributed throughout. On top of that, the Founders are not shy about wrapping their activities in symbolism and spirituality for the benefit of their subjects. So Kilana could have honestly requested it as a symbolic request, not knowing that information could be extracted later. The vial does seem to be ceremonially marked, as if this is it's purpose.

Though if it were not symbolic, the Kilana would not volunteer that information as Sisco may not have allowed it if he thought the Dominion could gain intelligence from it. Odo is not present, and at that time he has become a solid and had limited access to the Link. He may not be aware if memories could be recovered, though if he he thought it possible he would have advised Sisco against it.

If this act is purely symbolic and they cannot recover memories from that small sample then there is no real answer in cannon.

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    Thanks for thinking about this. The Chakoteya version of the script has a note that says Kilana puts some Founder ash into a vial. I suspect that whatever mechanism is used for memory storage and retrieval would have been destroyed and that nothing can be "accessed" from the ash. The gesture might be purely symbolic, especially as nothing is mentioned about wanting to preserve memories. But I'm happy you've revisited this and given it some thought, so +1. :-) – Praxis Aug 26 '15 at 21:15

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