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Death Rays, Jet Packs, Stunts, and Supercars: The Fantastic Physics of Film's Most Celebrated Secret Agent Hardcover – October 18, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (October 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801882486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801882487
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,715,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-A longtime James Bond fan, Parker takes a look at the science behind the movies and explains what works and what doesn't, and the basic physics involved. Is it possible to outrun an avalanche? Can a laser beam really cut someone in two? Do X-ray glasses work? The technical explanations are clear and intended for the layperson. Science alternates with movie details and interesting trivia: one of the world's first underwater cameras was used to film Thunderball; an early Bond movie featured snowboarding long before it became a popular sport. The appendix gives the author's opinions and rankings of the best of movies, actors, villains, and chase scenes. Parker's intent is not to criticize the films, but rather to share his enthusiasm for them and for physics. A book that's sure to appeal to teens with an interest in gadgets, cars, stunts, trick cinematography, and sports (skiing, bungee jumping).-Sandy Freund, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

In an entertaining narrative, Parker explores which aspects of Ian Fleming's Bond stories are scientifically sound and which are purely fiction or movie magic.

(Science News)

Offers an entertaining and penetrating look at the James Bond phenomenon by exploring the technical and scientific aspect of stunts and gadgets seen in the movies. This is a unique book James Bond fans will not want to miss.

(Alain Haché, author of The Physics of Hockey)

A very successful and entirely charming book that belongs in all college libraries. Highly recommended.

(Choice)

A fun romp with a handful of equations, charts, and diagrams.

(College and Research Libraries News)

Thorough and clearly written.

(Stephen Baxter Nature)

Parker has a terrific idea here—to scrutinize the science of the special effects on parade in the James Bond movies.

(Eve Lichtgarn AssociatedContent.com)

A book that's sure to appeal to teens with an interest in gadgets, cars, stunts, trick cinematography, and sports.

(School Library Journal)

For anyone moderately interested in both James Bond and physics, this is an entertaining and relatively easy read.

(Joanna Barstow Observatory Magazine)

A very enjoyable book with some very well handled physics.

(John L. Hubisz Physics Teacher)

More About the Author

I am a professor emeritus at Idaho State University where I taught physics and astronomy for 30 years. I also taught a writing class at night school at the university for several years. I am the author of 24 books and have written for the Smithsonian, Encyclopedia, Britannica, Time-Life Books, the Washington Post, and numerous magazines such as "Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, Flyfisherman, and Fishing World." My most recent books are "Good Vibrations: The Physics of Music," "Write a Book that Will Sell," and "You Should Write a Book." I now spend most of my time writing, but also enjoy travelling, hiking and fishing. Most of my early books were on popular science, but I've now branched into other areas. My webpage is BarryParkerbooks.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Did the jetpack that James Bond used in Thunderball actually work? What about the tiny helicopter in You Only Live Twice or the car/submarine combination used in The Spy Who Loved Me or the safe cracking gadget in Goldeneye? There is seemingly an endless supply of gimmicks, gadgets, and secret agent tricks in the James Bond franchise that extends back to the first film in 1962.

Emeritus professor of physics Barry Parker has written a fun, illuminating book on the reality--and the fantasy--of the gadgets and stunts from James Bond films. He includes chapters on amazing devices, death rays, cars, car chases and other stunts, spaceflight, and nuclear weapons. Yes, the jet pack is real and how it operates is easily understandable; Parker explains it in an accessible manner. Lasers do exist, but their lethality is an overstatement in every Bond film in which they appear. The cars are real, and most of their enhancements are possible. Any the stunts are certainly possible, but don't try it home.

Barry Parker does a fine job explaining the physics of each of these gadgets and gizmos, as well as the stunts and epic struggles. "Death Rays, Jet Packs, Stunts & Supercars: The Fantastic Physics of Film's Most Celebrated Secret Agent" is an enjoyable reading experience.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Poirier on February 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When I bought this book, I was expecting some brief descriptions of the various stunts, gadgets and weapons used in the James Bond movies, along with a brief scientific critique of how realistic they are (or could be) in real life. Although the book's content wasn't quite like that, I did thoroughly enjoy it. The author, who clearly appears to be an avid James Bond fan, has written a book that seems to have a double focus: (i) to describe several scenes from all the James Bond movies along with a summary of each of the plots, and (ii) to describe some of the physics involved regarding some of the stunts, gadgets, weapons and technology portrayed in these movies. The scene descriptions that are presented are very exciting and well detailed (in some cases, too detailed), but most are without commentary on the reality of the physics involved; some of these descriptions are repeated in the book. The physics that is described, complete with simple formulas, is quite entertaining, although there are several misprints and a few errors, e.g., use of "increase" when "decrease" should have been used - something that more careful editing would have easily fixed. In some cases, the author does comment on physical possibility of some of the technology used in these movies. The writing style is very engaging and the book is difficult to put down. Overall, I found this book quite entertaining. I recommend it to James Bond fans, old and new, as well as to those interested in seeing simple formulas used to describe how certain aspects of the world work.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DaleBr on July 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book discusses physics as applied to the world of James Bond 007, but is done for more of entertainment value. It should not be taken to be a serious book, but rather for pleasure. The physics is rather basic/simple in nature, lacking any real depth of content, but does address some physical concepts that 007 may be up against.
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Format: Hardcover
While this book is very interesting to read, that interest is generated more by the descriptions of the movies than it is by the explanation of the physics. Parker is clearly a huge fan of 007 James Bond and he lists the movies, the actors that played Bond, the plots and all the incredible stunts and gadgets carried out and used by the super spy. However, there is relatively little space devoted to the physics of the stunts or the devices. There are images of some of the most memorable vehicles as well as simple pictures of Bond's favorite pistol and a GPS receiver. I didn't do a precise count, but it seemed that images of the devices outnumbered the images similar to those you would find in a standard physics textbook.

Don't misunderstand; I loved this book, the summaries of the movie plots kept my interest throughout. However, that is what it really is and the sections where the physics is described generally seem to be an afterthought rather than the primary point of the book.
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