Doctor Who is always getting into some pickle or another.  Luckily he has advanced technology (and a time traveling police box/telephone booth) to help solve problems.

If defeating Daleks and keeping a temperamental TARDIS functional is in your future, we have good news;  Doctor Who's trusty sonic screwdriver gadget could become a reality for DIY types, according to Bristol University engineers who are out to show how a real life version of the fictional screwdriver, which uses sonic technology to open locks and undo screws, could be created.

TARDIS Doctor Who sonic screwdriver
TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space) need repaired?   A solution may be on the way.   Credit: Wikipedia.  TARDIS is a registered trademark of the BBC.

Professor of Ultrasonics Bruce Drinkwater  is working with
The Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair to inspire young scientists of the future and says ultrasonic sound waves make it achievable. By operating sound waves at frequencies way beyond the realms of human hearing, they can be used to apply forces to objects, such as in devices already being trialled in  manufacturing to attach parts  and ultrasonic force fields  to separate diseased cells from healthy cells.

Interesting, but not all that exciting to young people - super powerful versions of those sound beams that could bring Doctor Who's iconic device to life are another matter. 

"Doctor Who is renowned for bending the rules of science. But technology has radically moved on since the Doc first stepped out of his Tardis in the sixties. Whilst a fully functioning time machine may still be light years away, engineers are already experimenting with ultrasonic waves to move and manipulate small objects," says Drinkwater.

Engineers are looking into how ultrasonic waves can be spun at high speed to create a twisting force similar to that of a miniature tornado, which could undo screws remotely. They have also experimented with rotating ultrasonic force fields which would act like the head of a real screwdriver.

An up and coming Doctor Who and DIY fans may still have to wait before they can add the sonic screwdriver to their Christmas wish lists - the project is still academic and making it a real world application may take some
Time Lords. 

"Doctor Who's adventures have captured the imaginations of millions, young and old. And, however far fetched the Time Lord's encounters may seem, there are engineers and scientists out there who are using their skills to bring the magic to life.  The sonic screwdriver may still be sometime in the making but ultrasonic technology is already making its mark in the medical and manufacturing arenas with some exciting results." 

Professor Drinkwater has teamed up with The Big Bang, one of the UK's biggest celebrations of science and engineering, to inspire young people from all walks of life.

Taking place at ICC London ExCeL from March 10-12 2011, The Big Bang offers young people the chance to take part in a host of free interactive shows and workshops including Sky One's Brainiac Live! and BBC One's Bang Goes the Theory.  The Big Bang hosts the finals of the prestigious National Science&Engineering Competition and also kicks off National Science&Engineering Week 2011.