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According to "Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords", eight year old Time Lord children were to face an object called "the Untempered Schism". It was a hole in the fabric of reality that allowed any nearby observer to look into the Time Vortex, or "the raw power of time and space" as the Doctor himself puts it. Looking there was apparently quite dangerous, as some children would be inspired, but many would either run away (like the Doctor) or become insane (like the Master, though his insanity was also caused by a few other factors during his life).