James Bond and his Enemies Utilising Magnetic Forces

Magnets and magnetic powers often make it into popular culture via the movies.  With all the gadgets and gizmos, James Bond has enlisted the help of the simple magnet on many occasions.  In the first of two blogs, we look at the movies in which Magnets took a starring role alongside Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

From Russia With Love (1963)

The 1963 movie was the 2nd in the Broccoli & Saltzman franchise, featuring Sean Connery as James Bond.  His attache case was the first of many state-of-the-art gadgets supplied by Q.  The leather case contained a magnetised tin of talcum powder concealing a tear gas cartridge.

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When the case was opened with the latches in the wrong position, the tear gas bomb exploded.  After being overcome by Spectre villain Donald ‘Red’ Grant (played by Robert Shaw) on a train returning to England, Bond has to rely on the teargas canister exploding in his adversary’s face when he opens the case.  In the ensuing hand-to-hand battle, Bond eventually strangles Grant with his own garrote.

Magnetically attaching the tin to the inside of the case is possible, although only weak Ferrite Magnets were available when the movie was made.

You Only Live Twice (1967)

Sean Connery’s 5th outing as James Bond was in a movie with a screenplay written by Roald Dahl.  In the movie, Bond is in a Toyota 2000 GT with with an ally Aki and being chased by a car-load of gunmen.  The beautiful head of the Japanese Secret Service, Tiger Tanaka, comes to his rescue.  Her large two-rotor helicopter has a gigantic electro-magnet, which is lowered onto the villain’s car, lifting them off the ground and then dropping them into the sea.

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Electro-magnets are used widely in the scrap metal industry and was clearly the inspiration for this gadget.  However, the weight of such an electro-magnet would be considerable, especially with the addition of a car.  Also, how the electro-magnet is powered is never made very clear.

Live and Let Die (1973)

In 1973 Roger Moore made his first appearance as James Bond.  In the movie, Bond wears a unique Rolex watch with many features.  As well as a small buzz saw built into the face, which Bond uses to free himself after being tied up, the watch has two magnetic properties.  Incredibly, the timepiece has a magnetic field that is powerful enough to deflect a bullet at long range.  However, it is the use of the magnet in his watch to unzip the dress of Miss Caruso is the one that is most remembered.  Bond attributes this to ‘sheer magnetism’.

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In reality, it is difficult to comprehend how a magnet in a watch would deflect a bullet.  However, a Rare Earth Neodymium Magnet (which was not widely available at the time), may have some chance of unzipping a dress, although very unlikely.

Magnets in James Bond and the Real World

With the amazing advances in technology, many of the gadgets featured in early James Bond movies have now become reality.  Between 1963 and 2017, permanent magnet technology has evolved considerably, with Rare Earth Neodymium Magnets producing exceptionally strong magnetic forces.  In fact, without Magnets the world would be without mobile phones, wind turbines, and electric motors.

We just wonder when James bond will next need the help of a Magnetic Force.

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