For more than half a century Doctor Who has been transporting viewers across space to alien worlds and through time, from the distant past to the far future.
In the process the series has explored a huge range of scientific ideas, from black holes to artificial intelligence, and, in the form of the Doctor him/herself, it’s given us an image of the scientist as hero: brave, rational and endlessly curious.
In the book, The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who, and this talk, writer and documentary maker Simon Guerrier teams up with Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomer Dr Marek Kukula to explore the facts behind the fiction.
Doctor Who may not always get its science completely right but, like all great science fiction, it reminds us that the universe is an amazing place, and that a curious mind full of questions can find adventures anywhere.
Did you know…
- The creation of the Cybermen in The Tenth Planet in 1966 was prompted by two American
neuroscientists who argued that astronauts’ bodies should be adapted to suit the
conditions of space.
- The many parallel universes that feature in Doctor Who, from Inferno to Rise of the
Cybermen are inspired by a reaction to the Schrodinger’s Cat theory: that a new universe is
created for each different outcome.
- Time Lords aren’t the only beings able to regenerate – when the turritopsis dohrnii
jellyfish gets ill, old, or faces danger, it can return to its childhood state as a polyp.
About the authors:
Simon Guerrier is the author of countless Doctor Who books, comics, audio plays and documentaries. As research for one of his Doctor Who stories, he studied GCSE astronomy at the Royal Observatory Greenwich – resulting in an A* and the plot for another Doctor Who story. Simon regularly writes for Horrible Histories Magazine and medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry. With his brother Thomas, he also makes films and documentaries – most recently The Fundamentalist Queen, about the wife of Oliver Cromwell, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in December 2014.
Dr Marek Kukula is the Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the home of time and space. As a child, he wanted to be a Time Lord when he grew up but settled on astronomy as the next most exciting thing, going on to study quasars and distant galaxies with the Hubble Space Telescope. Marek regularly appears on BBC science shows such as The Sky at Night and Bang Goes
the Theory to discuss the latest astronomical discoveries and has also made an appearance on Doctor Who Confidential, showing Karen Gillan how to view Saturn through a telescope.
Sunday 22 October
Venue: The Forum’s Auditorium
Cost: £6, £4 concessions
Age: 8 to 2000!