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Old December 9 2013, 12:59 AM   #15
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Re: A thought on regenerations (spoilers for "Night/Day of the Doctor"

RJDonner&Blitzen wrote: View Post
It seems to me that there are four causes so far:

Old Age
Enforced Regeneration
Wouldn't radiation/energy damage count as a fifth cause? It's a distinct physical process from chemical/biological poisoning.

The interesting one is poison. Obviously, regeneration must purge the body of the poison, otherwise he'd keep dying until he ran out of regenerations. So, if he were to die of a fatal, communicable, disease, the same would likely occur. Or would the new body simply be immune to the poison or disease? This could lead to an interesting situation where the Doctor contracts a disease, regenerates, and is subsequently a source of antibodies.
Regeneration is the rapid replacement of every cell in the body, so the metabolism must go into extraordinarily high gear. That's probably enough to metabolize a toxin or burn out an infectious agent. Not sure that makes sense for something like heavy metal poisoning, though; regeneration would have to function somewhat like chelation.

But we know that regeneration involves the release of energy from within the body, and that release is often quite intense. That might be sufficient to burn out any toxins or infections.

Another interesting scenario would be if he died of cancer (can Time Lords have cancer?). How would the regeneration effect the cancer cells? All sorts of possibilities present themselves here, the most obvious being a sort of evil twin, a personification of the cancer.
Interesting. Cancer is cell regeneration run amuck. Indeed, Time Lord regeneration has a lot in common with cancer -- the cell replication is rapid and effectively unstoppable. But in that case, I'd assume there must be robust error-checking mechanisms in place to regulate the replication and resist malfunctions or runaways, or else cancer would be hard to avoid.

Suppose he died of decapitation or a severe head injury? This is a specific case of trauma, but one still has to wonder how it would effect the next regeneration. It would depend upon the specifics of the regeneration process, of course, but it's possible that the next Doctor could be retarded or at least amnesiac.
I think decapitation would be instantaneous enough to prevent regeneration. After all, regeneration is not resurrection. It's not guaranteed to happen no matter what. It's analogous to emergency surgery, say: it can save your life if there's time to get you stabilized, but if you're killed instantly, you're out of luck. That's why, in "The Impossible Astronaut," the Doctor (apparently) died when he was shot during the regeneration. The second shot killed him decisively and interrupted the process. And we know that in the '96 movie, the anaesthetic almost prevented regeneration from starting. In "The Night of the Doctor," the Doctor actually was killed instantly on impact and needed the Sisterhood's potion to revive him long enough to allow regeneration to occur. (In "The Stolen Earth," the shot from the Dalek was only a glancing blow. A dead-on hit would've killed him instantly, with no hope of regeneration.)

Severe head injury is another matter. I think his brain would regenerate fully, but he might lose a lot of his memories and knowledge.
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