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The Science of Doctor Who

, 328 pages

19 line drawings

May 2010



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The Science of Doctor Who

Almost fifty years after he first crossed the small screen, Doctor Who remains a science fiction touchstone. His exploits are thrilling, his world is mind-boggling, and that time travel machine—known as the Tardis—is almost certainly an old-fashioned blue police box, once commonly found in London.

Paul Parsons's plain-English account of the real science behind the fantastic universe portrayed in the Doctor Who television series provides answers to such burning questions as whether a sonic screwdriver is any use for putting up a shelf, how Cybermen make little Cybermen, where the toilets are in the Tardis, and much more.

Taking the show as a starting point—episode-by-episode in some cases—Parsons dissects its scientific concepts. In addition to explaining why time travel is possible and just how that blue police box works, Parsons

• discusses who the Time Lords are and how we may one day be able to regenerate just like them• ponders the ways that the doctor's two hearts might work and introduces us to a terrestrial animal with five• details the alien populations and cosmology of the Whovian Universe and relates them to what we currently know about our universe• compares the robotics of the show with startlingly similar real-world applications

This slender, equation-free discussion is penned by a Ph.D. cosmologist and is ideal beach reading for anyone who loves science and watches the show—no matter which planet the beach is on.

Paul Parsons is a scientist, journalist, and lifelong Doctor Who fan. He is a freelance contributor to various science magazines, including BBC Focus and New Scientist.

"Do you have to be a Doctor Who fan to read this book? No, but it helps. And if you aren't when you begin, you will probably be one by the end."

"Parsons deftly weaves a fascinating mixture of known fact, possible future development, and scant possibilities from the Who universe into an investigation that will appeal to Who fans and general readers alike. There should be a copy in the glove compartment of every Tardis."

"A voyage to the outer limits of Who universe science. Fans of the show will be amazed how much real-world science lies behind the storylines."

"This exploration of the long-running TV series delivers on its promise to answer the kinds of questions raised by the best of science fiction. The book takes readers on a satisfying romp through labs around the world where the show’s fantastical ideas are explained and, in some cases, shown moving closer to reality."

"Anyone who enjoys reading popular science magazines should get a kick out of The Science of Doctor Who."

"It had to happen that someone would write The Science of Doctor Who, and we're all very fortunate that Paul Parsons was the one who did it... If you only read one Science of XYZ book this year, make it this one."

"Parsons has written an engaging work accessible to lay audiences and interesting even to those not fanatical about the long-running BBC series... Accessible and entertaining, this is suitable for public and academic libraries and possibly also high school collections."

"Parsons, a scientist and journalist, is an unabashed fan of Doctor Who and does a good job of making the convoluted plots and characters decipherable, even to non-aficionados, and of explaining the research and science, often cutting edge, that has even a change of making the plots possible... Useful as popular reading and in courses covering the science of science fiction."

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