James Bond-worthy poisons: what is real and what is fiction

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Ricky Joseph

Works of action and investigation, whether films or books, often use a resource for their plots: poisons. However, not always the action of these drugs in films and books follows the scientific knowledge about them. Thinking about this, the expert Kathryn Harkup analyzes the poisons present in the James Bond series.

Poisons extracted from plants

In the 1979 movie "007 vs. the Death Rocket", the villain Hugo Drax has a well-defined purpose: to eliminate almost all of humanity using an orchid. The black flower, according to the plot, would produce a toxin that would be modified by Drax's scientists. The villain would then take shelter in his secret space space, with a select group of people, and drop poisonous bombs of the toxin on theplanet.

Image: S. Hermann & F. Richter / Pixabay

While the secret space base part is unlikely to say the least, plant-based poisons are quite common. Ricin, for example, is a toxin exploited in the series "Breaking Bad" that is synthesized from certain species of castor beans.

As Harkup argues, the governments of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom have already used ricin in chemical weapons development projects. The United Kingdom has even created inhalable bombs of the poison.

Poisoned blades in shoes

"Moscow vs 007" from 1963 depicts at one point Russian agents using retractable poisoned blades in their shoes. Although the poisons are not evidenced in the work, the technique is quite old, but not necessarily with shoes.

In this sense, several indigenous tribes use poisons collected from animals and plants (such as poisonous frogs) to embed arrows, spears, and blades in general. Even during the twentieth century, intelligence services tried to develop poisons capable of adhering to rifle and revolver bullets.

For the case of the blades, however, the proposal is quite plausible. Tetrodotoxin is one of the most known poisons by specialists, present even in the body of baiacus. A blade with the poison could, therefore, kill a person in a few minutes.

Poisons in drinks, classic move

In 2006, Russian journalist and former agent Alexander Litvinenko died suddenly from polonium-210 poisoning. A 2015 inquest showed that Litvinenko was likely murdered by Russian forces infiltrating British territory.

Image: Dirk Wohlrabe / Pixabay

Coincidentally, in the same month of the journalist's death, the movie "007 - Casino Royale" hits the theaters, reporting a poisoning event in a James Bond drink. However, in this case the villains use the digitalis poison, for which there is an antidote, unlike polonium-210, which kills by radiation.

Cyanide capsules

Perhaps one of the most bizarre historical bases, the 1962 film "007 vs. the Satanic Dr. No" reports an agent using a cyanide capsule present in a cigarette to commit suicide before Bond can get any information.

In "007 - Operation Skyfall", the character Raoul Silva relates how he had his face deformed by a cyanide capsule, moreover.

The fact is that during the Second World War, agents from various countries were in fact given glass pills containing cyanide in case they were captured. Cyanide acts directly on cellular respiration, on the enzyme cytochrome oxidase, causing cell death. The consequences are stabbing headaches, vomiting and convulsions in just a few minutes.

With information from Chemistry World.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.