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007 Physics Explained

DW staff (act)
December 9, 2006

Physics professor Metin Tolan was not only entertained when he watched the James Bond classic "Goldeneye" over 10 years ago. A new hobby was born -- the scientific analysis of Bond movies.

James Bond should have died a million deaths by nowImage: AP

Tolan was riveted as he watched agent 007 on a motorcycle chasing a small aircraft without a driver. When both vehicles plummeted off a cliff and Bond jumped into the plane's cockpit, the science lecturer wondered if such a stunt was actually possible. It took him two days until he found the answer.

"James Bond would have had to have been 14-times more streamlined than the plane -- this is actually impossible," he concluded

Ever since, the 41-year-old professor at Dortmund University has spent his free moments analyzing the technical stunts and feats from Bond classics. He has already held 50 lectures on the subject nationwide and says he has seen each film at least five times.

Attracting students' attention

The professor likes to incorporate his Bond analyses into his lectures -- apparently, his students pay more attention when he goes into the ins-and-outs of various technical aspects that they know from the movies.

BdT Dortmunder Professor erklärt Fußball-Physik
Metin Tolan has also explained the physics of soccerImage: picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb

Some of his students even honored him with a 007 poster in which his face replaced Bond. But he's not really a James Bond type of character, he said. "I'm more the worried kind."

That doesn't keep Tolan from pulling apart the inventions of Q, James Bond's weapons and gadget supplier.

Take the x-ray glasses Bond uses to see through people's clothing in "The World Is Not Enough." According to Tolan, the glasses would only work by x-raying people with a life-threatening dose on a permanent basis. Furthermore, Bond would need a pair of glasses that transformed x-rays into light.

The professor also recalled the flying derby that Oddjob, Goldfinger's bodyguard, wore and used as a lethal weapon to remove opponents from his path. Tolan reckoned the hat must have had an iron brim for it to be able to kill someone.

Crane stunt would have ripped out arms

Tolan dubbed "Casino Royale," the latest Bond movie, "good, very entertaining and exciting." He's already been analyzing the new movie's stunts.

Filmszene James Bond 007 Casino Royale
Bond's latest incarnation, Daniel Craig, seems equally immune to deathImage: 2006 Sony Pictures

In one scene, Bond attempts to jump from one crane to another. Just as he is about to catapult to a certain death, he manages to grab hold of the second crane. He hangs on for a while before hoisting himself up to safety, and the audience breathes a sigh of relief. In real life, said Tolan, Bond's arms would have been ripped from their sockets by such an exploit.

Asked why the sleek English spy only shakes his vodka martinis, the professor answered with a wink. Apparently, when the cocktails are shaken the large molecules that determine taste come to the top and the small alcohol molecules sink to the bottom. Bond only ever has one big sip that is very intensive in flavor.

Tolan's assumption may not be strictly scientific, but the Bond fan figured it was at least plausible.

After all, James Bond is a man who knows how to enjoy life.

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