Even Daleks need a science policy

The Daleks are the most feared species in the Doctor Who universe, able to bring even the all-powerful Time Lords to the brink of defeat. So where did that technological superiority come from?

Two alternative understandings of what drives technological innovation are traditionally offered. The first is that it is mainly pushed by the accumulation of potentially applicable scientific discoveries, and the second that it is largely pulled by the need to meet urgent needs and solve urgent problems.

We’ve already seen that the creation of the Daleks themselves was an example of a wartime ‘needs-pull’ dynamic. Assuming the Daleks are at permanent war with the universe, would this be enough to explain their technological progress? With sufficient material resources from the planets they conquer and sufficient Dalek engineers with sufficient skills and knowledge - perhaps genetically modified for the purpose - Dalek R&D could be expected to deliver great advances.

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Last Saturday, BBC aired its first episode of the eighth season of Doctor Who. As one of the most popular and longest running sci-fi shows of all time, many in the sciences have used the show to discuss their own findings in science in a way that the general public could understand, and promote the sciences among the expansive fan base. Most of these efforts have focused on physics. But the show also contains some valuable nuggets of information and imagination regarding neuroscience. Given that problems on the show are largely solved by the Doctor’s superior brain power, cognitive prowess, etc., some exploration of how the Doctor’s brain would work, if he were real, is warranted. 

For instance, what of Time Lord brain size? Brain speed? Just how would this all pan out, based on modern science?

Find out here, and tune in at 9PM EDT on Saturday on BBC America to watch the next episode with all this new information in mind! In the meantime, watch the Season 8 Episode 2 trailer here.

[image credit: mycroftplayingoperation]

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Magnetic brain stimulation treatment shown to boost memory

Memory can be boosted by using a magnetic field to stimulate part of the brain, a study has shown. The effect lasts at least 24 hours after the stimulation is given, improving the ability of volunteers to remember words linked to photos of faces.

Scientists believe the discovery could lead to new treatments for loss of memory function caused by ageing, strokes, head injuries and early Alzheimer’s disease.

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First World Silence Probs

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Lots of planets have a Scotland by Abel M’Vada

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Scottish scientists ‘grow’ whole organ inside animal in world first

Reprogrammed cells created in a Scottish laboratory have been used to build a complete and functional organ in a living animal for the first time.

A team of scientists from the University of Edinburgh produced a working thymus, a vital immune system “nerve centre” located near the heart.

In future the technique, so far only tested on mice, could be used to provide replacement organs for people with weakened immune systems, scientists believe.

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