Monday, 29 July 2013

Gadgets & Gizmos Ghost Machine Episode 3

Torchwood Gadgets and Gizmos
“Ghost Machine”
By Mickie Newton


In issue 4 we have arrived at episode 03, 'Ghost Machine’, in which the team are faced with a piece of Alien tech that allows the user to see the past and possible future, associated with their present location. The alien tech in question is the Quantum Transducer, which I shall look at as indepth as possible.

We shall also look at the Mini CAT scanner and the infamous SUV.  And as per usual I shall also look at what we have that is equivalent to the tech in question in our own world.

Quantum Transducer (QT) aka Ghost Machine

The Quantum Transducer, better known as the Ghost Machine, was seen in two episodes. In ‘Ghost Machine’, as the basis of the story, and briefly, when Owen was looking for the Rift Manipulator blueprints in ‘Captain Jack Harkness.’

From what we can tell, the QT fell through the rift sometime in the past. When this happened is unclear, but both halves were found by the same man who collected junk and kept this artefact locked away in a lock-up on Moira Street in Splott, Cardiff, Wales. When Sean Harris, aka Bernie Harris, and a mate were using the lock-up. Bernie found the QT along with some alien rocks and alien money, and took them hoping he could possibly sell them.

So what is it and what does it do?

It is in two halves that operate differently, depending on whether they are used together or separately. One half allows the user to see the 'ghosts' of the past for the location the user is in at the moment of use; latching onto the energies left behind from an event, such as an attack on someone like Lizzie Lewis, a lost child, like Thomas Erasmus Flanagan, or even a happy event, such as Gwen taking it home and seeing two past events that were both happy ones. So it can latch onto both positive and negative energies. When the two halves are joined the user then sees a possible future event. Of course we never see what the other half actually does on its own. What the possible function of that half it seems will remain a mystery, though when you look at the extra’s on the series one DVD in the deleted scene’s Toshiko says that one half is the past and the other is the future; but no explanation of what happens when the two halves are joined. So did they change their minds on how the QT would work?

Of course this latching to both negative and positive is unusual in sci-fi as often such things seem to only latch onto the most negative of events and never anything positive because, they say, the negative energies are the more powerful, and so more easily accessible, and of course Torchwood steps away from that way of thinking in this episode.

So what is it for? In a deleted scene Jack rationalises the possibility that it may act as some kind of SAT NAV for a ‘transdimentional being’, to help locate their location in time. But because that scene was never used, it is possible the writers changed their mind on its use and it was never speculated in the episode as to the possible purpose of the QT.
Maybe it was used by an alien races own form of police to solve a past or possible future crime. For the purpose of possible future crimes it may be used to prevent. But of course that could be to much literal thinking and its use may be much simpler and less ‘human’ and was actually used in the way Jack speculated in the deleted scene, but for what ever reason was never mentioned in the final cut of the episode.

For those who haven’t seen the deleted scene and to give you a better idea of what was discussed, take a look at my transcript of the scene:

Ep 3 ‘Ghost Machine’ Deleted Additional Scene sc62:
Meeting in boardroom: All the team, with the exception of Toshiko, are sat at the table (Ianto isn’t present). Drinks cups and paper work is scattered around the table. Jack is sat at the head, Gwen to his left and Owen opposite Gwen. Toshiko is stood to his right.

Tosh: (pinning photographs to the glass, then folds arms) “one half gives you ghosts from the past. The other from the future”
Owen: “Should we give Derek Acorah a ring?”
Tosh: (Turns to Owen) “Gwen saw for herself. She knows what it was!”
Owen: “So what else did you see; (slowly blinks and shakes head slowly) erm, a news paper, a click?”
Tosh: “A big sign saying the future?!”
Jack: “Okay kids, (hits the table with his hand) enough! Let’s go through it. Gwen?”
Gwen: (Leans forward, hands clasped. Looking down at the table as she speaks) “The box locks onto moments of extreme emotion. It makes them real; like it needs to tell us something. Beyond that I’m lost.”
Owen: “Join the club.”
Jack: (He’s sat back in his seat, relaxed) “Does anyone have Sat Nav in their car?”
Tosh: “Wanna go for a drive?!”
Jack: “Sat nav, GPS; we’ve got it in the SUV, right?! What does it do?”
Tosh: (She turns to face Jack, still with her arms crossed) “Stops us getting lost?”
Jack: (leans forward and rests arms on the table) “Okay. Now think! What would happen if the sat nav let us lock onto different things? (Opens up both hands moving them from side to side to emphasise his point) Instead of towns and motorways, it sorts out heat, light, energy sources, what then?!”
Owen: “I’d ask for my money back!” (Jack frowns back at Owen with displeasure at his remark)
Gwen: “You think it’s like ghost GPS?”
Jack: “They’re only ghosts to us. (He stands up and moves Toshiko to his seat.)  Imagine Toshiko is pure quantum energy (He stands behind her leaning over her left shoulder and moving his left hand around as he speaks) and that she’s lost. Now to her time is an element she can move around in, like swimming through water. Travelling in the past, present and future is like going on a train from Cardiff to Manchester.”
Owen: “Takes all day and is really expensive, yeh?!”
Jack: (Looking straight at Owen and speaks slowly and with emphasis) “She’s a transdimentional being!”
Gwen: “So just like using a map to get from A to B that uses (points at the quantum transducer) quantum hot spots to tell (points at Toshiko) her where she is in time?”
(Jack stands up nodding and smiling at Gwen’s deduction) Brilliant!
Tosh: “Thanks!” (Smiling)

End of scene

Source: Torchwood: Series one DVD Extras, deleted scenes.

What Do We Have On Earth?

Well what can I say? Up till now I have been able to show you the earth’s equivalent of the alien tech or gizmo’s used in the episodes. Does a Clairvoyant count? How about tarot cards or dowsing crystals? No? Then that would be a no. We don’t have technological gizmo like this on earth.

But there is a theory of energy echoes and it is slightly touched upon in the episode.

Jack: “Human emotion is energy. You can't always see it or hear it, but you can feel it. Ever had deja vu? Felt someone walk over your grave? Ever felt someone behind you in an empty room? Well there was. There always is.”
Gwen: “A ghost.”

It is said that objects and homes can some how hold onto the energies (remember, energy cannot be destroyed) of past events and people and these can sometimes bleed out. How this actually happens, I am unsure of, though it could simply be down to the environmental conditions. It could be humidity, temperature fluctuation, or even the amount of static electricity present.

How often have you been home and heard noises in your house and there is nothing to see? Some people have heard actual arguments within their homes and when they enter the room the sounds are coming from, there is nothing there and the voices have gone.

And of course we mustn’t forget there are those who do believe in actual ghosts, echoes of the long dead. And I put myself in that category due to my own personal experiences. But to learn more take a look at the following links about this strange phenomenon:

Echo Energies

The Physical Echo Theory

Miniature CAT scanner (computed tomography)

The miniature CAT scanner is often seen, but not really seen to be used, meaning it’s more set-dressing than props. The one time we do see it used is in this episode to scan and analyse the quantum transducer, to see how it is works.  As there is nothing really written down about this scanner, save for one small line in Wikipedia’s  ‘List of Torchwood Items.’ So much of what I write here is pure conjecture on my part, mostly with regards to what it might do.

When you look at it, it literally is a mini CAT scan machine, only open sided. To get a good idea of size we can look at Ian Buntings excellent concept artwork that shows it, assuming these measurements were used by the props team, to be 550mm deep and 420mm high. Though, curiously, no length is given.

Concept Art by Ian Bunting

So what can we imagine it may do, given how often it is mentioned that everyday equipment has been in some way upgraded using alien tech that is stored in the Torchwood archives.  Rather than rambling on I’ll bullet my thoughts of its possible functions. And by all means comment below your own theories.

Other features may include:

  • Scanning individual components
  • Breaking down molecular structure of said components
  • Comparing readings with Torchwoods own alien database of metals, minerals etc
  • Much like with a human CAT scanner you can see the artefact function from within when it is in use

What Do We Have On Earth?

This is a very easy one. Pretty much every hospital in the UK, USA and Europe will have  X-Ray Computed Tomography better known as a CAT scanner and these are used to look into our bodies without using invasive surgery. We are able to see brain activity and how it reacts to certain stimuli, remember John Barrowman in ‘The Making of Me’?

We can also see what is happening in the body cavity, such as the heart, lungs and liver. It’s an x-Ray machine that looks at soft tissue as opposed to solid bone.

For more information about this amazing machine that can save lives, follow the wiki link below!

X-Ray Computed Tomography

Torchwood SUV:

The Torchwood SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) is the HUB on wheels and was a converted black Range Rover Vogue. The SUV looks not unlike any other, but this one is decked out with everything the Torchwood team could possibly need.

It has blue lights running down the pillars. The number plate, CF06 FDU (this tells you the SUV was registered in Cardiff, Wales, UK between March and September 2006), this registration will not be found on the DVLA register and is white-on-black and a non standard typeface. This type of number plate is normally only found on military vehicles and on British vehicles registered before 1973.

The exterior is bullet-proof, has on-board computers that are linked to the Hub computers, as well as various databases, including the Police database CRIB (Crime Reporting Information Systems) and civilians’ personnel files.  Also featured in the SUV was medical equipment and weapons and was also fitted with a triple deadlock. But despite this it was stolen on a number of occasions. In the episode ‘Countrycide’ in series one, this was due to someone leaving the car keys in the ignition, series 2 ‘Exit Wounds’ by (I believe) Captain John Hart and by teenagers in ‘Children of Earth’.

Other features included:

  • Under the SUV boot was a hidden, disassembled gun (a very big gun), this was seen in series 2 episode ‘Something Borrowed’
  • The boot could open and close automatically. This was used when they needed to release Janet the weevil in the series 1 episode ‘Combat’
  • It also features a very spacious boot that is big enough to accommodate a fully grown Weevil or a Blow Fish
  • They could also change traffic lights to green (as featured in the novel Slow Decay) allowing them to freely move through traffic without being stopped by red lights.
  • Some lesser known features were that the SUV had rocket booster fitted and also had the ability to transform into a boat. This last feature hadn’t been tested until Jack and Ianto decided to use it during a mission. It was discovered it was useless when the SUV sank (audio books: ‘The Sin Eaters’)

On a final note, on the 24th February, in 2004, the BBC sold a number or Doctor Who props from the BBC Archives, including some from Torchwood, were sold in an auction. The SUV was sold for the tidy (very Welsh) £18,000

It should also be noted that the term SUV is not readily used in the UK. Such a vehicle is normally termed as a Range Rover. The reason behind this use of terminology is unknown, but it could be that SUV sounded cooler than Range Rover.

What Do We Have On Earth?

It goes without saying that we have SUVs in reality.  Where the difference is today between a 2006 SUV and one made in 2013, and this is the same with all modern cars, is that modern cars have at least one computer fitted as standard  and their functions are far more high tech that the Torchwood SUV. In the SUV we had computers accessing databases etc and not much else, where as computers in modern cars deal with such things as the function of the cars engines, motoring emissions, adjusting the engines performance and keeping the emissions as low as possible.  The cars computer has a number of sensors monitoring the oxygen, air pressure, air temperature, engine temperature, the throttle position and knock sensors.

On board computers, in the more expensive cars, can also control automatic transmission, it can control the brakes if the car is fitted with anti-lock breaks, air bags and advanced climate control functions.

Of course that’s not to say you can’t have computers, like they did in Torchwood, in your car. And of course, modern computers take up much less space that those used in Torchwood. Today we have brilliant Tablets, both in 10 and 7inch size, with touch screen. And if you want something that does more, you can have Netbooks or Notebooks; both of which can easily be used on your lap, or in the case of the tablets, in your hands. I can very easily see Toshiko swapping her PDA for a Tablet.

For more about computer functions in modern cars follow this link:

Bibliography and Sources:

Torchwood: The Encyclopedia by Gary Russell

TARDIS Data Core

Torchwood Items: Wikipedia



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