Death Rays, Jet Packs, Stunts & Supercars: The Fantastic Physics of Film's Most Celebrated Secret Agent

W. David Lewis, Author . Johns Hopkins Univ. $25 (668p) ISBN 978-0-8018-8244-9

Film lovers shudder when they think about the scene in Goldfinger where James Bond is strapped to a metal table as a laser slowly cutting it in two inches toward him. As physics professor Parker (The Isaac Newton School of Driving ) reminds us, however, you can't see a laser beam. Bond is always sent out with the ultimate boy toys: a wristwatch with a built-in buzz saw, a pen with metal-dissolving acid, even a spin controller that can stop a slot machine right on the jackpot. Parker explains in layperson's terms the physics behind many of Bond's stunts and devices: the basic principles of motion as he out-skis an avalanche in On Her Majesty's Secret Service ; how the hologram works in The World Is Not Enough ; the science underlying the villain Blofield's voice changer in Diamonds Are Forever . When Parker gets away from the physics, however, his writing is plodding, and there are too many blow-by-blows. All in all, it's neither as exciting nor as much fun as a Bond movie. 90 b&w illus. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/03/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 668 pages - 978-0-8018-8972-1
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