The Schiensh of Bond: A View to a Kill

This month in BlogalongaBond, under the leadership of The Incredible Suit, we say goodbye to someone who has been a constant throughout the last half year. This individual hasn’t been much loved by many of the BlogalongaBondoliers, I have been especially vocal in my distain, but it would seem he is to leave us. That’s right, in A View to a Kill Roger Moore’s mole is absent. Whether the removal was for aesthetic reasons, concerns about skin cancer or the result of a Circus Mole Hunt led by Le Carre’s finest – the Moore is now moleless.

Which is how we will begin with A View to a Kill – Wrong, wrong, wrong, on so many levels.

I’m not quite sure how they managed to get from cheating racehorses to earthquakes via microchips. However…

My Lovely Horse

Bond and Tibbett go to Ascot in order to investigate why Zorin’s horses are running so fast. After some ill-advised laboratory exploration, they discover that Zorin is having microchips implanted into the horses. These microchips are used to dose the horses with “horse steroids” during races and can be activated remotely, potentially by the jockey. This, Bond states, overcomes fatigue in the horse.

However, the rationale here is flawed. Normally, training (whether equine or human) depending on the type of training, results in increased muscle mass. The individual muscle cells get bigger because the amount of protein they contain increases. Using anabolic steroids (like what the cheating athletes do) increases the size of muscles even more than training alone. Steroids do this by increasing protein synthesis and by inhibiting muscle breakdown by the hormone cortisol, this results in stronger muscle which is more resistant to fatigue. You can see why this would be beneficial for a racehorse. Curiously, although it’s been illegal to use steroids in racehorses in the UK, their use was only banned in the US in 2009.

So far so shiny. Steroids act by changing protein synthesis. Protein synthesis isn’t the instantaneous process one would require when desperately tired during a race. It would involve a lot  of protein synthesis, something that would take hours to days. Therefore, injections of steroids during a race is not the most appropriate way of cheating. You should either give Dobbin steroids during training, this would actually increase muscle mass and reduce muscle fatigue or give a proper stimulant during the race making him faster in the short term. On the plus side for Zorin, really good tests for horse steroids weren’t available in 1985, so cheat away!

Earth Movers

Zorin wants a microchip monopoly,  but those pesky clever clogs over in silicon valley are too good at doing their job. Zorin’s plan is to flood the Hayward and San Andreas faults by blowing up some lakes. The water in the faults then supposedly causes earthquakes, which, according to our young attractive geologist Stacey Sutton, will flood silicon valley, wiping out Zorin’s competition.

Hang on a minute, would that actually work? And what is a “Geological Lock”? Google was unable to find any references outside of A View to a Kill and the tinfoil hatwearers’ society. You get similar results if you ask your preferred search engine if you can cause an earthquake by flooding geological faults.

First off, a geological fault is a gap formed by the meeting of 2 or more tectonic plates. In the context of geology, earthquakes are caused by adjacent plates moving past each other, making epic crunching noises. I can find no references to flooding faults causing earthquakes, and also bear in mind that some geological faults are underwater. For instance, sections of the San Andreas fault are under water.  However, there are numerous ways in which humans can cause earthquakes. There is quite a nice description here. Wired pretty much ruled out using nuclear bombs along fault lines causing earthquakes – this is Lex Luthor tries to do in Superman.

The two most relevant activities by which humans can cause earthquakes are building dams and by injecting liquid into the ground.

There are some suggestions that the building of the Three Gorges Dam in Sichuan in China precipitated or exacerbated the 2008 earthquake in the area, although this is disputed. The idea being that a massive amount of water increases the stress in the rocks beneath it. This stress can cause fluctuations in seismic readings and potentially cause earthquakes if they are near a fault.

The US Army were  injecting fluid into the ground as a disposal method of waste material. However, they ceased when apparent seismic activity of the the surrounding area increased . Their conclusions are rather interesting:

…as fluid pressure increases, the apparent strength of the fault decreases… as a result, the potential for induced earthquakes also increases

Nicholson and Wesson, 1987

However, this is different from Zorin’s explosives driven fault-flooding method. The water would flow into the fault in an undirected manner so the water pressure is unlikely to be great enough to stress the rocks around the fault. The method here seems very flawed, if he had done his research, he’d be injecting liquid into the ground.

And so endeth Roger Moore. I’m looking forward to Timothy Dalton…

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  1. #1 by FlimsrRuss (@FilmsrRuss) on March 2, 2012 - 15:37

    Wow, if I knew that you were going to talk about steroid receptors I could have lent you my PhD thesis! That diagram looks all too familiar, despite it being almost 10 years since I worked on them. Interestingly enough, I now work on Translation, but not in relation to steroid receptors.

    • #2 by followthelemur on March 2, 2012 - 18:09

      Awesomes! I’m actually a physiologist/neuroscientist, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at steroids…

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