In James Bond films, futuristic gadgets and weapons aren’t just part of the fun. As Spectre prepares to expand the Bond gadget canon, here’s a celebration of what makes 007’s tool kit so damn coolin our November issue.
Deadly Lasers: It Happened!
In the 1959 novel Goldfinger, the eponymous villain threatens to slice Bond in half using a circular saw. Lasers were invented a year later—so for the 1964 movie, producers replaced the saw with a totally sci-fi, not-yet-in-existence, industrial-strength beam. Now searing, metal-cutting lasers are commonplace in factories.
Personal Jetpacks: It's Happening!
The jetpack in Thunderball (1965) looks campy, but it was real—and could fly for 21 seconds. “The test pilot wouldn’t do it without a helmet because it was so dangerous, so they had to reshoot Connery’s scenes with the helmet to match,” says Simmonds. Today’s jetpacks aren’t perfect, but they’ve definitely improved.
Active Camoflage: It Could Happen!
In Die Another Day (2002), Bond pushes a button to make his Aston Martin disappear. Absurd…but wait! “There are many approaches to this actively being researched,” says Damon Lamb, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Florida. Potential solution: metamaterials that bend light around an object, cloaking it.