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One for the Dr. Who fans

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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In my post about going vegan for a month I mentioned that during that time I ran a science outreach event in regional Victoria called “Science of Fiction: Doctor Who” and that I took a bunch of pictures on the way back. I went with Ben Lewis who writes at That Science Guy and he wrote up this post for our institution’s (RiAus) blog. Hope you like the photos!

When two bloggers join forces, strange things happen. Joined by James Byrne, we travelled to Natimuk, Victoria to host “Science of Fiction: Doctor Who”.

So is time travel possible? Well according to our panel of physicists, it is theoretically possible. Time is not straight, but rather “wibbly-wobbly”. So theoretically you can create a wormhole with a bridge to another wormhole, the problem being however that wormholes are typically extremely unstable. To help stabilise a wormhole you could explode it with anti-gravity. Does this mean that you can trvael to any time you wanted, as the Doctor does? Well no, you could only travel to the time when the wormhole at the other end was created, much to the chagrin of 7% of our audience who wished they could travel to earlier in the day and change their mind about going to the show.

Teleportation, however, was not as ‘easy’ as time travel. Our panel suggested that you could scan a body and transmit the data to another place, then rebuild the body. However, it was pointed out that this would entail destroying the original body which raises an ethical quandry, and besides would the rebuilt you really be you? Also, according to a back-of-the-envelope calculation there is around 3000 trillion DVDs worth of data in the body, so transmitting that much data restricts the viability of teleportation.

The panel also talked life on other planets (“while there may be life on other planets, with our current levels of technology the chances of finding it are extremely slim, and even then it may not be something we recognise as a living being”), and robotics (when the audience found Billie Piper to be as creepy as a humanoid robot).

The event even had its own robot dog – K-9. And here is where it started getting strange. Despite having never seen an episode of Doctor Who, James started getting into the spirit of the weekend, to the extent that on our travels we decided to make a record of “The Adventures of K-9″.

K-9 arrives in Natimuk 

K-9 was hugely popular at the show, with a number of people coming up afterwards asking for photos with him. So much so, when we left he thought he owned the town.

K-9 marking his territory 

Just like a real dog… 

Visiting Horsham 

Exploring Nhill 

K-9 meets a friend in Kaniva 

In Bordertown 

Visiting the mystifying Land Rover on a Pole in Keith 

The Land Rover on a Pole is so strange even the Doctor came for a look. 

This is not where Tin Tin lives, by the way. 

Last stop, Tailem Bend. 

Waiting patiently by the door of the Science Exchange, Adelaide. 

By Ben Lewis, That Science Guy


James Byrne About the Author: Dr James Byrne has a PhD in Microbiology and works as a science communicator at the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus), Australia's unique national science hub, which showcases the importance of science in everyday life. Follow on Twitter @JB_blogs.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. ThePeakOilPoet 7:56 pm 12/3/2011

    imagine a single point in a universe of no other points

    there can be no dimensions – there are no yard sticks

    imagine now a second point – so now we have a yard stick – the distance between them which we can increase or decrease

    so now take the second point and move it from its starting position to a new position

    we have invented time – a sequence, at time t1 we had two points separated by some distance and at time t2 we had them separated by a new distance

    now let us move the second particle back to where it was at t1

    for all intents and purposes we have now moved back in time – there is no other yard stick available to assert otherwise

    this gives us a clue to how the universe might work

    if, relative to any point (say, you or i), all other points in the universe are moved back to where they were at a previous time then we have “time travel”

    and we now can suggest that the idea of time travel is based on a flaw – that the whole universe might be wound backwards to satisfy the time-traveling needs of some arbitrary point

    once you understand this you can start to understand that even our concept of C is flawed for it assumes a constant point gravitational constant – which we now know from such things as GPS is flawed

    that leads us to understand such things as red-shift – instead of it indicating an expanding universe it is simply the consequence of light moving from regions of lower point gravitational constant to higher – and consequentially slowing down

    the greatest experiments we can do are those that will provide insights on C – such as sending probes in different directions away from us and then asking of them to communicate with each other what they between them perceive to be their measurement of C and sending that back to us

    we actually have enough data to figure this out

    it’s just such a scary thing for all those who have invested their whole life in careers that depend on C

    we need a constant C so we can have an expanding universe so that we can have evidence to support the big bang so we can have a cosmology in accordance with our Judao-Christian beliefs

    just, as Einstein often did, a thought experiment


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  2. 2. ThePeakOilPoet 8:00 pm 12/3/2011

    oh, for those interested, my blog is here:


    Link to this

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