The Schiensh of Bond: The Man With the Golden Gun

Blah blah blah wasted Christopher Lee, blah blah blah bollocks, BlogalongaBond – The Man With The Golden Gun.

Golden Gun, Golden Bullets

Gold is a fascinating metal, it’s rare, it’s precious and most important of all it’s shiny. Wikipedia tells me that it has a melting point of 1064.18 °C (1337.33 K), and it is also a very good conductor of heat and electricity, and very dense (more so than lead). Scaramanga’s gun is custom made, it is assembled from a cigarette case, a fountain pen and a lighter with a cufflink trigger. He uses gold bullets in the film – these being his calling card.

What are the logistics of using gold for these? Well, for a gun, you probably wouldn’t want a firing pin in a metal as malleable as gold; it would likely change shape during repeated firing. The force involved in firing a bullet originates from some form of explosive pressure. In a gun made of gold, you’d lose a lot of the heat to the barrel because it is such a good conductor of heat. The gun would therefore be rather inefficient. It would also get quite hot, so it would be difficult to hold. If you were going to make a gun out of gold, you wouldn’t have a gold firing pin or barrel.

Things get a little fuzzy around the bullets. Lazar makes custom 4.2 mm diameter bullets (~.17 calibre) that are 23 carat gold. Cartridges have been used for many years, they encapsulate a bullet and an explosive propellent in a casing. Presumably, Scaramanga’s bullets come in a gold casing with some sort of explosive powder to provide thrust for the bullet. This isn’t discussed at all in the film so I can’t really comment. More information can be found here.

There’s a nice explanation here.

Trying to find out anything on the behaviour of gold bullets is tough work, principally because gold is rather expensive (over £1k per ounce). However, some bored genius on Yahoo Answers has. Lead, a normal material with which to make bullets, is soft and has a tendency to flatten on impact, causing a huge amount of damage. Gold does much the same thing as it is also soft and dense. If it had a casing made of a tougher material – like copper or tin, it wouldn’t come apart so much.

Car Stunt Skills

One of the coolest things about this decidedly sub-par film is that car stunt (which some pillock decided to add a swanee whistle to)

This stunt has a rather cool history: it was originally developed by Raymond McHenry using a mathematical model,  details of which can be found here. The genius thing about the compter model is how well it matches up with the reality. The stunt had been performed before TMWTGG, and MGM bought the rights to it. The stunt was done in one take using eight cameras.

Physical Impossibilities

I got a bit bored after the car stunt, so I was practicing guitar. But then I noticed this piece of glaring stupid.

The temperature absolute zero? Like -273 °C? With all due respect, BOLLOCKS.

The Maguffin in this film is a Solex agitator, an integral component in Scaramanga’s highly efficient solar power generator. Scaramanga describes his set up for generating solar power, and as part of the process, there are superconductivity coils cooled by liquid helium. I have absolutely no idea how this set up works.

There are two methods by which it is possible to generate solar power. One way is by using solar panels which heat in the sun, this heat is then used to boil water and turn turbines (which generates electricity in the same way as nuclear power and fossil fuel power plants do.) The second method is by use of the photoelectric effect using photovoltaic cells. When light shines on a material, a semiconductor, the energy of the photons is transferred to electrons within is, giving the electron enough energy to break away from their associated atoms. This means the electrons in the semiconductor are free. The material solar cells are made of have very special characteristics that mean that the electrons can only move in one direction. A net flow of charged particles (in this case electrons) produces an electrical current.

Back to the liquid helium being held at absolute zero. This is impossible. Absolute zero – 0 degrees Kelvin (0 K) is -273.15 °C. Temperature is a measure of energy in a system, energy has to be removed for temperature to drop. When the energy of a material decreases, the movement of atoms falls – so theoretically ast absolute 0, all movement of molecules ceases. Even deep space has a temperature of ~3 K. But absolute zero cannot be reached – this would violate the third law of thermodynamics. However,  Aaron Leanhardt’s team at MIT managed to reach 450 picokelvin (0.000 000 000 45) degrees above absolute zero in 2003.

Weird things happen when you reach really low temperatures  – helium becomes a superfluid around 2 K. In this state, it becomes a perfect thermal conductor and has no viscosity, so it has a tendency to creep out of containers.

It was more fun relearning A-level physics than watching The Man With The Golden Gun. I really hope The Spy Who Loved Me is better.

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