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Sci-Fi Science

Dr. Who's Sonic Screwdriver Exists 179

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the master-still-not-real-tho dept.
Phoghat writes "Television's favourite Time Lord could not exist without his trusty sonic screwdriver, as it's proved priceless in defeating Daleks and keeping the Tardis in check. Now Doctor Who's famous cure-all gadget could become a reality for DIY-ers across the world, say engineers. Ultrasonic engineers at Bristol University and The Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair are uncovering how a real life version of the fictional screwdriver — which uses sonic technology to open locks and undo screws — could be created."
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Dr. Who's Sonic Screwdriver Exists

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  • /scoff (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:20PM (#34489120) Homepage
    Title: "...Sonic Screwdriver Exists."
    Summery: "...could be created."
    I call shenanigans.
  • Humph (Score:3, Funny)

    by aaronrp (773980) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:25PM (#34489214) Homepage Journal
    Like The Master, I want a laser screwdriver. Who'd have sonic?
    • Re:Humph (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:30PM (#34489284) Homepage

      Like The Master, I want a laser screwdriver. Who'd have sonic?

      The Doctor used the sonic screwdriver because it couldn't be used as a weapon to kill or maim.

      Just sayin'. :-P

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        I thought he used the sonic screwdriver because he didn't want to have to remember a new tool or technojargon every time some problem needed solved.

        Oh wait, that was the actor, not the doctor.

      • That might explain why he gets himself killed so often. It's always the immortals or those that think themselves as such that are do dovish.
      • Re:Humph (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @02:15PM (#34491064) Journal
        In The Sea Devils, he used it to detonate landmines around the aquatic silurian climbing onto the beach. The only reason it wasn't used to kill or main there was that he was detonating them a little distance away. He's also used it to cut through metal, and various other materials. It's pretty clearly usable as a weapon.
        • by flowwolf (1824892)
          Yeah some times the original intentions of the plot architects have to be swept to the side in an effort to move the story forward. Take startrek for example. Gene Rodenbury intended a society where currency didn't exist; Yet we still have episodes where we hear about them saving up their credits.
      • Didn't Capt. Jack have a sonic blaster or something? It's possible to stab someone with a normal screwdriver, so you could probably find a way to hurt someone with a sonic screwdriver.

    • Re:Humph (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:16PM (#34490058)

      Like The Master, I want a laser screwdriver. Who'd have sonic?

      Who'd have sonic.

  • I declare vaporware. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jewens (993139) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:26PM (#34489220)

    Of course it would be cool to see some of the potential applications make their way back into Dr. Who.

    ex. the Doctor using his screwdriver as an ultrasonic welder.

    • by Lectrik (180902)

      Of course it would be cool to see some of the potential applications make their way back into Dr. Who.

      ex. the Doctor using his screwdriver as an ultrasonic welder.

      Well in Empty Child/The Doctor Dances he uses the screwdriver to cut a chainlink fence and then has Rose use it to reconnect the cut fence

  • but may still be some time in the making hyperbole fail
  • FTA

    They have also experimented with rotating ultrasonic force fields which would act like the head of a real screwdriver.

    Sound is a longitudinal wave, not transverse, and has no polarization to rotate or orient.

    • Sound is a longitudinal wave

      Only in liquids and gases. You can have transverse sounds waves in solids.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Those are technically just shear stress as a result of sound, and not technically a sound wave themselves.
        • Those are technically just shear stress as a result of sound

          No, transverse (shear) sounds waves can exist in solids completely independently of any longitudinal wave. If you don't believe me pick up any first year (or even secondary school) physics text book or look at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          Looks like duck, quacks like a duck...

          You know the rest.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      If I'm shaping the wave so that it reflects off the lateral sides of the screw slot, it can produce a reaction force in the screw. No? Send it one way at one end of the slot and the other way at the other end, and you get a torque. Yes?

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        I find this to be very interesting, seeing as how I was initially thinking of a screwdriver equivalent to an impact wrench/drill - the ultrasonics acting to overcome static friction to make removing the screw easier.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          Well, anyone can do that. The trick is to unscrew a screw without actually touching it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Where he "invents" death stars and time machines via a bunch of ludicrous pseudo-scientific bullshit hand-waving, and presents it to a bunch of LARPers?

  • ...but it could be created.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      If it wasn't necessary to invent it, it would already exist.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        If it wasn't necessary to invent it, it would already exist.

        Oh, there's lots of things that it wasn't "necessary" to invent that didn't already exist. Unfortunately, we can't uninvent them.

  • Plot holes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BigBadBus (653823) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:42PM (#34489484) Homepage
    Ah, but can it be used to paper over plot holes, or do just about everything to further the plot. It seems to do just about anything but unscrew screws, but what do you expect from writers who just can't write decent plots? Whats the point of getting the Doctor into a tricky situation if all he has to do is take out his sonic screwdriver and whoosh- instantly solved. Sheer lasiness from the writers. But then again, they probably have an eye on merchandising and toy sales...
    • by N7DR (536428)

      Yep. The sonic screwdriver was initially introduced because it was deemed silly to have the Doctor confounded by simple locks. Essentially its job was to allow the real plot to proceed when the Doctor was confined to a locked room or was in some similar mundane situation.

      As such, it was not unreasonable.

      Now, though, it has evolved into an extremely annoying gadget that seems to short-circuit the plot rather than further it. Is there nothing that the current incarnation of this device can't do? Frankly, I wi

      • by digitig (1056110)

        Frankly, I wish he'd just lose it somewhere.

        Or at least do the decent thing and shout stuff like "Wingardiam Leviosa!" as he uses it.

      • Is there nothing that the current incarnation of this device can't do?

        Yes, it can't open a deadlock seal. Pretty much any lock in the latest season created by any future civilisation has been a deadlock seal, precisely to prevent this kind of plot short-circuiting.

    • It seems to do just about anything but unscrew screws

      Actually, in the first episode in which it appears, the Doctor uses it to turn a screw. All the silliness that comes later is really a running joke in the series.

  • by LocalH (28506) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:54PM (#34489690) Homepage

    It's "Doctor Who", not "Dr. Who".

    Yes, I'm ignoring the Cushing films. Just like most people do.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's "Doctor Who", not "Dr. Who".

      Get. A. Life.

      • by LocalH (28506)

        I would argue that spending your time finding posts to correct means that you have less of a life than I.

        • by H0p313ss (811249)

          It's "Doctor Who", not "Dr. Who".

          Get. A. Life.

          I would argue that spending your time finding posts to correct means that you have less of a life than I.

          I do hope you were trying to be ironic.

    • by Eudial (590661)

      There is some pretty strange canon to support the abbreviation: Patrick Troughton was credited as "Dr. Who" during his run. Though I don't think he's ever been called anything other than "The Doctor" on screen.

      • by Zoxed (676559)

        > There is some pretty strange canon to support the abbreviation...

        I am not an expert, but I thought the term "Dr Who" came from the oft used lines, variants of:

        > And you are ?
        > I am The Doctor
        > Doctor Who ?
        > No, just "The Doctor"

  • by CommieLib (468883) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @02:19PM (#34491114) Homepage
    Let's really embrace the nerdiness - how would a tool that the Doctor uses in such a wide varieties of ways have to work?

    First, jettison any baggage you have with the term "screwdriver"...clearly, the word is used to be synonymous with "tool". I've always kind of imagined that what the SS is, first and foremost, is a technological scanner and classifier. When the Doctor points it at something, the SS scans the technology and presents the Doctor with an (invisible to everyone else) visual representation of its internals. Probably an abstract representation. Then, the Doctor is able to telepathically use the SS to manipulate those internals in whatever way he wants.

    So, if you point it at an actual lock, you would see a representation of the tumblers, and you can "will" the tumblers into place with it. If you point it at a cell phone, you'll see a circuit diagram, etc.

    Add to that a galactic size library of all software algorithms ever written, and the ability to write them remotely. With a few thousand or so years for the Time Lords to develop progressive layers of software abstraction, you'd have a tool a well-trained user could do anything with.
    • by dugeen (1224138)
      "If your bitterest enemies are people who hack the heads off civilians, then I would say you're doing something right." What if our enemies are people who slaughter civilians for 'shock and awe' purposes, and torture others and imprison them without trial? Could you please include an extra line in your signatroll to inform us about whether we, too, are doing something right.
  • Will it have setting 2428D to re-attach barbed wire?

  • by RapmasterT (787426) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @02:54PM (#34491708)
    Dr. Who's Sonic Screwdriver Exists...and all it took was redefining the words "sonic screwdriver" and "exists".

    I swear, writing inaccurate headlines that give impressions 180 degrees from the story facts is an art that you just can't teach.
  • Hey Phoghat! Are you too stupid to know the difference between "Dr. Who's Sonic Screwdriver Exists" and "Dr. Who's Sonic Screwdriver Could Be Created"?!
  • Mod down for unoriginal taste of humor
  • by crossmr (957846)

    Dr. Who's Sonic Screwdriver Exists

    could become a reality

    could be created.

    Apparently someone has been hanging out with/channeling kdawson far too much.

  • I like to think that 'Sonic Screwdriver' is just a mispelling of 'Psionic Screwdriver'.

    It's a do-what-I-mean tool, just like the 'Psychic Paper', and unlike a proper C Compiler or XML parser.

    The mechinism by which it does it's thing is unimportant; it could be a heat screwdriver that uses themal expansion/contraction to move parts, or a graviton screwdriver manipulating mass and be used exactly the same way in almost every situation.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

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