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Learn the Science Behind Bond’s ‘Skyfall’ Weapon

Skyfall
MGM

While we’ve previously told you about the real life science behind James Bond’s gadgets in movies like ‘Goldeneye’ and ‘Live and Let Die, we thought we’d take a look at the devices used by Bond in his latest outing, ‘Skyfall.’The new movie, released on the 50th anniversary of the franchise, finds (spoiler-alert!) a essentially gadget-free Bond (Daniel Craig) fighting with brain and body against the high-tech villain and ex-’Double-O’-agent, Silva (Javier Bardem).

The fight is fought on the technology front with Q struggling to keep up with Silva’s insane computer skills, and ironically in this high-tech setting, Q arms Bond with merely his usual Walther PPK and a radio device.

skyfall
MGM

Barbara Broccoli, longtime producer of the Bond franchise, said, “The reality is, yes, we all use technology and technology is very helpful, but ultimately it does come down to human beings out in the field doing things that require extraordinary guts and commitment.”

However, the film does allude to ghosts of gadgets past — 007 threatens Judi Dench’s M with the Aston Martin’s famous ejector seat and Q sarcastically asks Bond if he was expecting an exploding pen in his kit.

The “usual Walther PPK” in ‘Skyfall’ was in fact a slightly souped-up version of previous guns we’ve seen, providing a more “personal statement” for 007 rather than just a regular weapon. The slightly bigger PPK/S, which holds one more cartridge than the original 1930s design, has also been embellished with a biometric palm-scanner on the trigger that ensures only 007 can use this weapon.

walther ppk skyfall
MGM

Fingerprint-based identification is an old method which has been successfully used in numerous applications. Everyone has unique and unchanging fingerprints, making this a good mark of identification. However, the concept of a “smart gun” is one which has been around for over two decades now. A “smart gun” possesses a user-specific mechanism that prevents anyone but the weapon’s owner from operating the gun. The idea of a gun that could not be fired accidentally by a child or violently by a criminal who stole it has quickly become a popular solution to gun-control problems.

In the early 1990s, a group of engineering students at Johns Hopkins University were given $2,000 and an assignment to build a ”smart” gun. They did, and while it was not a pretty solution, the weapon worked. However, many subsequent attempts — for example, ones using radio signals from a bracelet or Dynamic Grip Recognition (using size and strength of grip) — have had many problems.

Only magnetic devices are actually available where “smart guns” are concerned. The Magloc conversion kit for 1911A1 pistols works by stopping the gun from firing unless a magnetic ring worn by the user repels the magnetic blocking device installed inside the grip. Once the system is activated using the matching magnetic ring, the owner can switch the over-ride switch to the “on” position and allow anyone to fire the pistol. So in the case of ‘Skyfall,’ this might not have helped 007 very much when his opponent picked up the gun which Bond had just activated.

So, unfortunately, this piece of neat technology won’t be available for now, despite the concept of a user-specific gun being a popular and already somewhat successful one. It is  however one of the smoothest Bond gadgets yet, understated yet effective, and Bond owes his life to it!

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