- Laser watches, fingerprint guns, explosives and, of course, over-equipped cars: the list of gadgets flaunted by James Bond is as bewildering as the mind of their inventor, Q.
- While some of these gadgets actually exist (laser, fingerprint recognition, back reactor), others, as we shall see, are more fanciful.
The fast, inconspicuous cars of the world’s most famous secret agent
In 1964’s Goldfinger, James Bond (Sean Connery) has to give up his Bentley for an Aston Martin DB5 modified by Q (the unforgettable Desmond Llewelyn). This is the first of eight appearances of a car that will go on to become inseparable from 007.
The auto is a good example of how products have become more complex and incorporated a greater diversity of raw materials over time.
- The DB5 contains an array of minerals, starting with aluminium, a metal known to make cars lighter.
- The body of the DB5 is made of aluminium and magnesium alloy plates resting on a tubular steel structure.
- More recently, in Dying Can Wait (2021), the Aston Martin Valhalla is a plug-in hybrid, but James Bond has not yet gone all-electric.
Golden guns that would melt in real life
- Another cult item is the Walther PPK, the German pistol used by 007 in many of the Bond films.
- Limited to one shot, the pistol fires bullets of 4.2 mm calibre, weighs 30 g and is made of 23-carat gold with traces of nickel.
- In jewellery, gold is often combined with silver, copper or zinc to make it wearable.
- On 4 December 2023, one kilogram of gold was trading at around €66,000, an all-time record (World Gold Council).
James Bond and his high-tech enemies
The saga has also always been about surprising the general public with cutting-edge technology, which may be little known at the time of the film’s release. What better example than the laser, which, should we be reminded, stands short for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The saga likes to beam it as often as possible, alternatively adding it to pistols, watches, cars, and satellites.
- In Goldfinger (1964), film director Guy Hamilton chooses to bypass Ian Fleming’s novel of the same name by threatening James Bond not with a chainsaw, but a laser.
- For one, telemetry: from the Greek “tel” (“remote”) and “metros” (“to measure”), this practice consists in remotely measuring physical and electrical data.
- Physicist Théodore Maiman introduced the first operational laser in the real world in May 1960 (American Physical Society), right before James Bond.
Crystalline lasers: made of silica glass (from very pure quartz) or synthetic ruby or sapphire crystals (aluminium oxide doped with titanium, chromium or rare earths : neodymium, ytterbium, praseodymium, erbium or thulium) ;
Fibre lasers : composed of optical fibres based on silica (derived from ultra-pure quartz) and doped with rare earths (metals extracted mainly from minerals such as bastnaesite, monazite or xenotime) ;
Gas lasers: using helium (extracted from natural gas deposits) and neon (extracted from atmospheric air gases) or CO2 ;
Organic dye lasers.
The red light beam in Goldfinger was emitted from a laser (probably ruby) whose brightness was amplified by special effects. However, the destructive nature of the laser is pure fiction. During filming, an operator used an acetylene torch under the pre-cut table even though Sean Connery was lying on it !
- It’s a stainless and corrosion-resistant steel that limits the risk of allergic reactions when it comes into contact with the skin.
- James Bond is like many other citizens, he consumes mineral raw materials on a daily basis.
Nicolas Charles ne travaille pas, ne conseille pas, ne possède pas de parts, ne reçoit pas de fonds d'une organisation qui pourrait tirer profit de cet article, et n'a déclaré aucune autre affiliation que son organisme de recherche.