Category Archives: Engineering

Pacific Rim: Why Giant Robots Are (Usually) Silly

I’ll start this off by saying I really like Guillermo del Toro’s body of work, and that his characteristic blend of physical effects and CGI really shows in the quality visuals I’ve come to expect from his films. These two trailers for the upcoming Pacific Rim indicate that it will not be an exception to this rule.


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Mechanical Principles of Small Arms

This Army Pictorial Service training films does an excellent job of explaining the fundamental mechanical principles of small arms through the use of oversized physical models, not unlike the Hamilton Watch Company film I referenced in an earlier post.

The first half takes us through all the basic operations of a single-shot magazine-fed firearm like a bolt-action rifle.


While the second and third cover semi-automatic and fully-automatic actions.


Tip ‘o the helmet to Isegoria.

How a Mechanical Watch Works

I’m particularly fond of this video, produced by the Hamilton Watch Company, that showcases the inner mechanisms of a mechanical watch. There’s something about the tangible way the model parts are assembled and operated that does a much better job than CGI of explaining how it works.


The analogies they use are very helpful for understanding the key principle of the system: controlling the flow of energy; and I also found the delicate, sand-grain sized components that make up the watch to be an amazing feat of engineering.

Laser Weapons and Naval Warfare

This is the first in a series of articles I’m writing for the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC): http://cimsec.org/laser-weapons-and-naval-warfare-an-introduction/

Molten Lead Cooled Fast Reactors

With world energy demand projected to more than double by 2050, nuclear energy is fast becoming a prime option for the future of global power generation; indeed, the proportion of the world’s energy produced by nuclear means would need to grow by 15 times to stabilize global CO2 emissions. The reactors that will be commissioned to replace and augment the currently operating crop of generation II and III designs (mostly light-water reactors, or LWRs) will need to be safe, proliferation resistant, sustainable, and competitive with other power generation options in order to be politically and economically viable. One possible option for this fourth generation of nuclear reactors is the lead-cooled fast reactor, or LFR; a design which combines favorable features of some other potential Gen IV reactor-types with significantly better behavior in severe accidents.

Fewer nuclear plants = much more CO2. From REepedia

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Return and Grandma

Wow, that was certainly a long and busy hiatus! Two moves and two states later, I am finally back in a situation where I can continue this little project. To start off, here are some fun renders of a 3D cutaway model I made for an RPG campaign I am running. The game is set in the Warhammer: 40K universe by Games Workshop, and involves the crew of an Imperial tank trying to survive after the near annihilation of their operational maneuver group. Their vehicle is a Leman Russ Main Battle Tank; Conqueror variant. Being as obsessed as I am with realism (not to mention armored vehicle design and engineering), I couldn’t help but make changes. After all, I take it that since human beings are not 5 heads high it is reasonable to assume that the other miniatures are similarly exaggerated versions of what exists “in universe.” So, here is “Grandma” (I love my players).

Run for the hills!

Front view showing off the main gun and lascannon. Glass for driver’s vision blocks, along with much else, is a work in progress.

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