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The Science of Doctor Who

Doctor Who 2005-2014 Six Doctors

“Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC from 1963 to the present day. It depicts the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord—a time-travelling humanoid alien. He explores the universe in his TARDIS, a time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.” {Wikipedia}

The Science of Doctor Who – BBC.  Professor Brian Cox takes an audience on a journey into the wonderful universe of the Doctor, from the lecture hall of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Drawing on the latest theories as well as 200 years of scientific discoveries and the genius of Einstein, Brian tries to answer the classic questions raised by the Doctor – can you really travel in time? Does extra-terrestrial life exist in our galaxy? And how do you build something as fantastical as the TARDIS?

Science of Doctor Who

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BBC Science of Doctor Who

Literacy connections

“Doctor Who has always been based on an idea of literacy as power against the powerful, developing the individual’s self-knowledge and ability to understand others, and above all conveying the basic message that things-as-they-are isn’t all there is.”
– Lawrence Miles and Tat Wood, About Time: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who, Volume 5.

Doctor Who – Script to Screen competition


ELA Curriculum Connections

7. Understanding and interpreting texts
• Deduce characters’ reasons for behaviour from their actions and explain how ideas are developed in non-fiction texts.
• Explain how writers use figurative and expressive language to create images and atmosphere.

9.Creating and shaping texts
• Develop and refine ideas in writing using planning and problem-solving strategies.
• Show imagination through language used to create emphasis, humour, atmosphere or suspense.
• Choose and combine words, images and other features for particular effects.
• Clarify meaning and point of view by using varied sentence structure (phrases, clauses and adverbials).

• Write consistently with neat, legible and joined handwriting.
• Use word-processing packages to present written work and continue to increase speed and accuracy in typing.

Doctor Who and Mathematics
Doctor Who is known for its time-travelling hijinx, but many of its storylines are deeply rooted in maths,
We hear from scriptwriter Stephen Thompson about the show’s mathematical influences.




Physics connections:

Is time travel actually possible? Not as far as we know, but our current understanding of physics implies that it may be possible, under some rather extreme circumstances.  There have been excellent discussions of this idea in many books and TV shows, such as NOVA (PBS)

Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time, J. Richard Gott

“As one of the foremost scientists in the field of time travel, Princeton astrophysicist Gott takes it upon himself to disseminate advice on building time machines. The construction of the vessel itself is rarely of concern here; it is the way it is used and the way that space-time (the dimensions of space and time that we collectively consider to be our universe) behaves around it that may eventually allow adventurers to break with the usual order of things. Believing that science fiction often spurs true scientific discovery, Gott explores numerous theatrical and literary concepts before moving on to current bona fide theories, pointing out the difficulties of each method. Some possibilities for leaving the present involve dismantling Jupiter, making use of “cosmic strings,” taking a trip at near light-speeds far out into space then back and warping space-time itself. Einstein’s theory of relativity, upon which all of the presented theories depend, is described in impressively clear language. ”



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