Did the jet pack that James Bond used in Thunderball actually work? What about the tiny helicopter in You Only Live Twice or the car/submarine combination used in The Spy Who Loved Me or the safe cracking gadget in Goldeneye? There is seemingly an endless supply of gimmicks, gadgets, and secret agent tricks in the James Bond franchise that extends back to the first film in 1962.
Emeritus professor of physics Barry Parker has written a fun, illuminating book on the reality—and the fantasy—of the gadgets and stunts from James Bond films. He includes chapters on amazing devices, death rays, cars, car chases and other stunts, spaceflight, and nuclear weapons. Yes, the jet pack is real and how it operates is easily understandable; Parker explains it in an accessible manner. Lasers do exist, but their lethality is an overstatement in every Bond film in which they appear. The cars are real, and most of their enhancements are possible. Any the stunts are certainly possible, but don’t try it home.
Barry Parker does a fine job explaining the physics of each of these gadgets and gizmos, as well as the stunts and epic struggles. Death Rays, Jet Packs, Stunts & Supercars: The Fantastic Physics of Film’s Most Celebrated Secret Agent is an enjoyable reading experience.