10 September 2013

Sonic Screwdriver Usage Charts

I've just sent the article over to Jürgen one last time and after he signs off on it, off the editor it goes. This is the first article in the series and it's just too bad that the magazine is going on hiatus shortly. Means we need to find another outlet.

How We Defined The Sonic Uses
Using our sonic screwdriver list we categorized every use to the closest physical science a function was attempting to mimic, and which acoustic science could possibly explain those results. So every physical science is connected to one or more sonic science depending on the use. This isn't as easy as it sounds. I lost track how many nights I wander the dusty corridors of the intratubes looking for the merest scrap of potential research that could explain one of the uses of the screwdriver.

For a while I was saying the screwdriver acted like a mass spectrometer when the Doctor used it for scanning [that was before the acoustic eureka moment]. But a mass spectrometer is not a non-destructive device. Whatever it examines is destroyed in the process. I needed something non-destructive to explain how he could scan a person and not harm them. That's when I ran into acoustic microscopy. And that's when I decided that every use needed to be explained by an acoustic science.

797 uses later they are all explained. Well almost all of them. There's still those pesky magic wand uses that can never be explained. But there should be some mystery behind the screwdriver.

Uses by Character Chart
The first thing we needed to do was calculate just how many times each character used any sonic device. And that job fell to me so I scrubbed through every episode from Fury From the Deep to The Name of the Doctor looking for every use. It was daunting but was the only way to get a complete list. And when it was all said and done, the following chart emerged. The Doctors start at the 12 o'clock position with The Second Doctor and follows through to the 10 o'clock position where The Eleventh Doctor ends. That's over 80% of all the uses.

 photo doctortimeline-4-onering_zps0777881e.jpg

Physical Science by Acoustic Science Network
This chart shows the connections made during the initial stage of What acoustic science can explain that use? First every use was gathered into the dataset logging in the episode, who used it, and what exacting it was doing. At that stage, I didn't really know how I was going to catalog these. I will be writing up that part of process in a later posting.

After the idea of researching all the acoustic sciences happened and all the uses were nestled into their respective categories, it was time to put it into a network. Jürgen saw that an interesting view came from comparing how the physical and the acoustic sciences interconnected. There is a defined area where the electromagnetic uses clump together with only thermodynamics being connected to this cluster.

 photo physicalsciencetoacousticsciencesmall_zpsbbef256a.png

The article goes into some detail about the explanations of connecting the acoustic science to the physical science. It was amazing how much of the science to explain the sonic screwdriver actually exists today. No really, I saw a video where a scientist caused a disc to revolve in a liquid using only an ultrasonic device. And that motion harkens back to the very first use in Fury From the Deep when the Second Doctor turned that very first screw.

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