Temporal Drift and Alternate Time
The Relative Drift Compensators try to keep the TARDISes positioned in both space and time stable by protecting it against time eddies, random molecular disturbances, and other fluctuations. It will cause the TARDIS to move towards and lock onto the nearest major centre of gravity. If a TARDIS is placed in space near a planet, the Compensators will draw the TARDIS down to the surface of the planet.
While in Hover Mode a TARDIS can be set for Temporal Drift by disabling the Relative Drift Compensators and engaging the Stasis Switch. This will cause a TARDIS to move forwards in time at a rate of 50 years a second. An indicator light shows when the switch has been engaged Unlike other forms of time travel the dimensional stabilizers will not be heard inside or outside the capsule. Though a TARDIS is not fully rematerialized in N-Space, the Scanner can still be used to observe the effects of the passage of time outside the vessel.
This system can even be used to temporarily examine the Alternate Time possibilities by jumping a time track. While in alternate time the Yearometer will be stuck in safety mode reading all zeros. The main doors can be opened, but if the crew leave the timeship they will discover that their reality quotient is too low to have any effect on events in the time zone. They will be ignored by all life forms they encounter and indeed be able to pass through some objects. The reality quotients of the crew will remain low until they leave alternate time or until the TARDIS's automatically corrects this wandering by moving a crystalline component back into place. At that point the crew will all snap back in time to the point where the TARDIS properly materialized before the journey into alternate time began.
A malfunction in the relative drift compensator often causes turbulence while in the Vortex. If a malfunction caused a TARDIS's gravitation bearing to de-rectify or the Lateral Drift Compensators to activate then the ship could drift away from the current time zone without its operator on board. The TARDIS needs to be in Normal Space for its temporal drift systems to be recalibrated. A TARDIS can use its temporal drift function without a Time Lord being on board. However, it will only be able to travel 1,382 years back in time before beginning to lose structural integrity.
The following color code is used:
- Black: For information from the TV Series, including Dimensions in Time, and 1996 TV Movie.
- Blue: For information from the Novels and Audios including Target, Virgin, BCC, and Big Finish.
- Green: For information from 'licensed' reference sources such as the Technical Manual, Doctor Who Magazine, and the Role Playing Games.
- Red: For information from unofficial sources -The Faction Paradox series, behind the scenes interviews, author's speculation, and popular fan belief.
The TARDIS Technical Index is copyright Will B Swift.