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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 13: Science and Technology > THE TRADES


Much of the Doctor’s incredible ship is shrouded in mystery, but we’ve discovered that it’s far more than a machine for travelling through time and space…
The Doctor (Matt Smith) shows the Van Baalen brothers the Eye in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (2013).
The Eye of Harmony, as it appears in the TV Movie (1996).
Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), Ian (William Russell) and Susan (Carole Ann Ford) watch as the Doctor (William Hartnell) prepares to dematerialise the TARDIS in The Mutants (aka The Daleks, 1963-64).


The TARDIS is, without doubt, the most extraordinary piece of technology in Doctor Who. The product of one of the most advanced civilisations in the universe, it’s capable of many feats, not least its ability to travel anywhere through time and space. But how does it work?

To begin with, its primary power source is the Eye of Harmony, the source of energy that gives the Time Lords mastery over time. In The Three Doctors (1972-73) we learn that solar engineer Omega created this power source by detonating a star; in The Deadly Assassin (1976) its discovery is attributed to another Time Lord, Rassilon, and the power source is named as the Eye of Harmony, the stabilised nucleus of a black hole, relocated to an area beneath the Panopticon on Gallifrey. In Hide (2013) we learn that it’s possible to create a ‘subset’ of the Eye, which may explain why the Eye is present in the TARDIS in the 1996 TV Movie and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (2013).

It’s a little mind-boggling to fathom how the Eye can be present in every TARDIS, until you consider that the interior of every TARDIS exists in a different dimension (as explained in The Robots of Death, 1977). Presumably, just as the interior continua can intersect with real space-time through the door, it can also intersect with wherever the Eye is too; the Eye seen in the TARDIS is like the tip of an iceberg protruding into the TARDIS interior dimension while the rest of the Eye exists in real space-time. However, the power drains in Death to the Daleks (1974), Enlightenment (1983) and Flatline (2014) imply that the TARDIS’ power supply is finite – so perhaps the TARDIS only intersects with the Eye when it needs to refuel? In The Invasion of Time (1978) we learn that the TARDIS has an ancillary power station (disguised as an art gallery); might this be how the TARDIS is powered when not relying on its primary power source?

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Ever since the TARDIS was first revealed in 1963, Doctor Who has presented a bewildering array of alien technology and gadgetry. Human scientific knowledge can do nothing to explain the mysteries of the astonishing devices and phenomena that the Doctor takes for granted. This is the first publication devoted to the incredible ideas that the series has made its own. Highlights include a comprehensive guide to the sonic screwdriver, the secrets of the Time Lords and the weaponry of the Doctor’s most dangerous enemies.