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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 13: Science and Technology > SONIC DEVICES

SONIC DEVICES

Whatever you do in the Doctor Who universe, never doubt that you could be doing it better with sound waves.
An assortment of vintage sonic screwdrivers from the Doctor’s desk in The Pilot (2017).
The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) demonstrates his new sonic screwdriver to Victoria (Deborah Watling) by removing the screws from an inspection hatch in Episode 1 of Fury from the Deep (1968).

Sonic technology is everywhere. There are sonic knives (City of Death, 1979), sonic lances (Attack of the Cybermen, 1985), sonic probes (inferred from Doomsday, 2006), sonic ‘door handles’ (basically a garage door opener, used by the Doctor in 1970’s Inferno) and sonic devices to deafen security cameras (Four to Doomsday, 1982). In the near future, sound-operated locks will be commonplace (The Power of the Daleks, 1966, and The Space Pirates, 1969) – while in the distant past, Silurians used sonic lanterns to maintain control of dinosaurs (Deep Breath, 2014).

Like many technologies, alas, this one has a dark side. Sonic weapons are standard issue for Martian soldiers – as we learn in The Ice Warriors (1967), when one such threatens that his sonic gun will “burst your brain with sound”. For larger projects, like destroying a human ioniser base, a sonic cannon will suffice.

The Bannermen employ sonic cones as security devices – destroying anyone who ventures into their invisible fields (Delta and the Bannermen, 1987) – while the DJ on Necros blasts Daleks with “a highly directional ultrasonic beam of rock and roll” in Revelation of the Daleks (1985).

Torchwood’s Toshiko Sato may have been the first human to build a sonic weapon – a sonic modulator – in the Torchwood episode Fragments (2008). By the 51st century, however, sonic blasters are mass-produced in weapons factories on the planet Villengard. Captain Jack Harkness brought an example to 1941 in The Doctor Dances (2005), boasting that it also functions as “a sonic cannon and… a triple-enfolded sonic disrupter.” A more precise tool than its name suggests, it has a perfectly square blast pattern.

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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.