The TARDIS is the vehicle Doctor Who uses to travel around space and time and have his adventures. Standing for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, it is bigger on the inside than the outside and contains a tantalising number of rooms.
The TARDIS is a unique vehicle, capable of travelling not only through space, but also through time. It even has a chameleon circuit, which changes the external appearance of the TARDIS so it blends into the background. Unfortunately for the Doctor, the TARDIS’s chameleon circuit broke many years back when it was in the form of a 1950’s British blue police box. As the Doctor hasn’t had the time or been able to repair it, the TARDIS still takes this form today. The actual reason for the shape of the TARDIS was based on financial concerns of building a new model every episode.
The name TARDIS doesn’t refer to just one device, but is the generic name for the type of vehicle, like car refers to many different types. The Doctor’s vehicle is an obsolete type 40 TARDIS that he “borrowed” when he left Gallifrey (his home world) under a shadow.
Whole generations of children have prayed for the day they would find a blue police box on the street corner and would open the door to find the Doctor standing behind the console, inviting them for a trip.
How does The TARDIS work?
The TARDIS dematerialises from one place space / time and then reappears in another, accompanied by the familiar wheezing and groaning sound as the light on top flashes.
Powered by the nucleus of an artificial black hole, the TARDIS also occasionally requires mercury (for its fluid links), a rare ore called Zeiton 7 and Artron energy. Artron energy comes from the minds of Time Lords and is a form of temporal energy.
The TARDIS links in with the Time Lord who owns it through a process of imprinting (using the Rassilon Imprimatur). This imprinting provides the Time Lord with the ability to withstand the pressures of time travel. Without this imprinting he would dissolve into his component molecules and disappear. This imprinting is a safeguard against misuse of a TARDIS – a crime which under Time Lord law carries only one penalty – death.
The difference in size of the inside of the TARDIS to the outside is explained by the TARDIS being dimensionally transcendental. This means that the outside of the TARDIS exists in one dimension, i.e. ours, and the inside in a separate dimension. When you step through the doors you enter the alternative dimension or pocket universe of the inside of the TARDIS.
Inside The TARDIS
The full extent of the inside of the TARDIS has never been revealed, but we know that it has a huge wardrobe area, an art gallery, a swimming pool, medical bay, storage areas and room for Jon Pertwee’s car, Bessie. Whereas the inside of the TARDIS is not infinite, it is large enough to provide a backdrop and material for many an episode.
Of course, the inside of the TARDIS has changed over the years. The Doctor “does up” the TARDIS, makes changes and repairs it. This can be seen in the changes in the main console room and comments from the second Doctor in the episode The Three Doctors confirm this. “Ah, I see you’ve been doing the TARDIS up a bit! I don’t like it.”
And as you can imagine, with a vehicle as old as the TARDIS (at least 900 years) it is inclined to break down. We frequently find the Doctor, and more recently Captain Jack, with his head inside a panel repairing another system that has broken.
One of the most useful features of the TARDIS is its ability to translate language for its occupants. This feature, however, is linked to the Doctor as was seen in the 2005 Christmas Invasion special. When the Doctor was experiencing trouble regenerating, Rose couldn’t understand Sycorax’s language. When the Doctor recovered to save the day, the translation feature worked again.
The TARDIS has become an icon of British culture, a throwback to an earlier year and a different society. And now with the return of Doctor Who to our screens a whole new generation of children have started to scour the streets, looking for the TARDIS to materialise.