With the forthcoming release of Spectre, the 24th film in the James Bond oeuvre, we thought that it would be pertinent to have a look at some of the science in a classic Bond film. And then we abandoned that plan and went for License to Kill instead.
The final installment of only two outings to feature Timothy Dalton as the infamous chauvinist heroic British spy, License to Kill revolves around a plotline that ticks all the necessary boxes for clichéd spy movie. Latin American drug lord, check; impossibly beautiful love interest(s), check; retribution sought for an injured/dead colleague, check; slightly sketchy science, che— actually, perhaps the most shocking thing about the film (aside from its gender politics and lazy racial stereotyping) is that most of the science that it covers is actually pretty good.
but a lot of the discussion is centred on the plot device of smuggling cocaine in tankers of gasoline. We talk to Dr Oliver Sutcliffe, Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical & Analytical Chemistry at Manchester Metropolitan University, about the scientific legitimacy of such a crackpot scheme, only to find that it is based very much in scientific fact!
Dr Sutcliffe also talks to us about his research into the detection of legal highs, and we hypothesise that one of the more popular current varities, Spice (or ‘Synthetic Marjuana’), potentially has its etymological roots in Frank Herbert’s Sci-Fi classic Dune. We also go into perhaps more detail than was strictly necessary about the different ways in which drugs can be smuggled in and out of a country, and discuss the presence of coffee filter paper in a drug smuggler’s toolbox.
Please note that this podcast comes with a disclaimer that whilst chemistry can be used to make drugs of both the legal and illicit varieties, the former should not be done unless you are a professional, and the latter should not be done under any circumstances at all. After all, if License to Kill has taught us anything it is that smuggling drugs absolutely does not pay, well that and the fact that an electric eel is actually a species of fish!
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