I came late to the party, but now I am one of those people who fully embrace Doctor Who not as a mere television show, but for the absolute miracle of existence that it is. No show, not Twin Peaks, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not even Pushing Daisies, has ever drawn me in so deep. It is quite simply the best television ever made.
One day last week I fell into a kind of fugue, a funk brought on by money trouble, too many late nights and bad weather. I managed to pass the time cheering myself up by imagining what it would be like to be one of the Doctor's companions just tooling around space and time. It's a pretty common form of Who fan daydream, but there's nothing like that in real life, is there?
Turns out the world of the Doctor is a bit closer than you think.
Aside from the TARDIS, the sonic screwdriver is probably the most recognizable bit of Time Lord technology. It's a multi-use tool that can lock or unlock almost anything, make cell phones able to receive service anywhere in the universe and in any time, operate computer systems, and yes, it can occasionally unscrew things. Not every Doctor has used the screwdriver, but in the modern series it's a constant, handy presence ready to help whenever it's called for.
It turns out that scientists at the University of Dundee in Scotland are hard at work trying to create one of their own. The device will use an ultrasonic beam to manipulate objects remotely, moving them up and down and rotating them. The goal is to use it as a form of noninvasive surgery, targeted drug delivery and even directly affecting cells using the ultrasonic beam.
Appropriately enough, one of the functions of the sonic screwdriver is that it also serves as a medical scanner. Who knows what miracles may be capable through sonic manipulation? We'll just have to see where science takes us from here.
Admit it, of all the monsters and enemies in Doctor Who, the Weeping Angels are the ones we least want out here in the real world. Disguised as statutes, they are actually an ancient race that feeds by hurling people back in time and absorbing the energy difference caused by the flux. They evolved the perfect defense system. While they're being observed, even by their own race, they become completely inert and indestructible statues. However, even in the time it takes you to blink, they can rush to attack. They've appeared in two episodes, and both times it's the scariest damn thing you'll ever see.
Luckily, they're fictional and there's no way for them to be real...unless they were, say, living uranium or another unstable particle. It's called the Quantum Zeno effect and if it's not the eeriest thing in the universe, it has to at least be in the top ten. You see, certain elements like uranium don't decay when they're observed. Seriously, when you turn around they act however they're supposed to act, but if you're looking at them they will essentially become time-locked like the Angels. It was discovered at the University of Texas in 1977, and no one has any damn idea why.
Good thing that nobody is working on creating uranium-based lifeforms... except those guys in Georgia that did it five months ago.
More than the adventure, more than to see things no human has ever seen, we want to meet the Doctor. He's like Jesus and the Most Interesting Man in the World combined. That's why no one ever dreams of wanting to be the Doctor. No one thinks they're cool enough to pull it off. We just want to hear that "vworp vworp" noise, the creak of the TARDIS door, and an invitation to tag along.
And it just might happen.
First off, there is serious time-machine research being done right now by Dr. Ronald Mallett. Granted, his work has come under heavy criticism, but there's no specific law of physics that says time-traveling can't be done. Still, it's not Mallett I'm talking about...
Back in the 18th century there was a man they called the Count of St. Germain. He was rumored to be the last of a doomed Transylvanian aristocracy. He appeared in the courts of England and France, displaying incredible skills in music and alchemy. Louis XV used him for diplomatic missions.
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Legend has it that he continuously displayed knowledge of future events, and that courtiers continuously remarked on seeing him in previous eras without aging. He supposedly died in 1784. However, a man of his description has been seen many times since then, even into the 20th century.
Women's rights activist Annie Besant claimed to have met with the Count in 1896. One of his chief biographers, Isabel Oakley-Cooper, lists a number of sightings up to 1822 under various disguises used by him. The last known sighting was in 1930.
Most telling of all is a passage left behind in manuscript by the Count, entitled "La Tres Sainte Trinosophie," left behind from his days in 18th century France. It reads...
"We moved through space at a speed that can only be compared with nothing but itself. Within a fraction of a second the plains below us were out of sight and the Earth had become a faint nebula."