Bond Science: The 007 Technology That’s Become Real

How three iconic Bond gadgets predicted the future.

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.