Sonic screwdriver

From Academic Kids

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Doctorsonic.jpg
The Fourth Doctor and his sonic screwdriver (from The Sontaran Experiment).

The sonic screwdriver is a fictional tool in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Its most common function is the ability to operate on virtually any lock, mechanical or electronic, and thus open doors for escape or exploration. It has also been used as for repairing equipment, as an offensive weapon, and occasionally even used to drive screws. Like the TARDIS, it has become one of the icons of the programme, and is intimately associated with the Doctor.

The sonic screwdriver made its first appearance in the 1968 Second Doctor serial, Fury from the Deep and was used by the Doctor as a multi-purpose tool from that point onwards, with occasional variations in appearance. Its abilities vary somewhat from story to story and the way it works is never explicitly explained. However, the name implies that it operates through the use of sound waves to remotely exert physical forces on objects, such as the mechanisms inside locks. In The Sea Devils the Doctor used it to detonate land mines from a distance.

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Sonicscrewdriver.jpg
The redesigned sonic screwdriver from the 2005 series.

The Doctor's Time Lady companion Romana constructed a sonic screwdriver of her own, first seen during the Fourth Doctor serial The Horns of Nimon. It had a smaller form factor than the Doctor's and he was sufficiently impressed with her design that he attempted (unsuccessfully) to swap screwdrivers with her.

The sonic screwdriver was written out of the series in 1982 when it was destroyed by a hostile alien in the serial The Visitation. This was done on the instructions of producer John Nathan-Turner, who felt that the device had become an easy way out for writers, since the Doctor could use it to get out of just about any situation. The series remained sonic screwdriver-free until it ceased production in 1989 and it was not until the 1996 Doctor Who telemovie that the Doctor was seen to have a sonic screwdriver again.

A redesigned sonic screwdriver prop, with a glowing blue light in addition to the sound effect, appeared in the 2005 revival of the series. The abilities of the sonic screwdriver were also greatly expanded. In addition to its previously seen uses, the device was used as a medical scanner (The Empty Child); to repair barbed wire (The Doctor Dances); to intercept a teleportation signal (Boom Town) and to remotely activate an "emergency programme" in the TARDIS (The Parting of the Ways). The setting to reattach barbed wire was setting 2482D, implying that it has at least that many functions.

Sonic Screwdriver is also the name of a fanzine published by the Doctor Who Club of Victoria.


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