peer reviews





Michal Karcz Photography

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god damn i’m doing this project on the rat pack, specifically peter lawford and i just realized who he looks like

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5 months ago

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That’s some fierce booty.

booty game HELLA STRONG

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Delphine LaLaurie was a sadistic socialite who lived in New Orleans. Her home was a chamber of horrors. On April 10, 1834, a fire broke out in the mansion’s kitchen, and firefighters found two slaves chained to the stove. They appeared to have started the fire themselves, in order to attract attention. The firefighters were lead by other slaves to the attic, where the real surprise was. Over a dozen disfigured and maimed slaves were manacled to the walls or floors. Several had been the subjects of gruesome medical experiments. One man appeared to be part of some bizarre sex change, a woman was trapped in a small cage with her limbs broken and reset to look like a crab, and another woman with arms and legs removed, and patches of her flesh sliced off in a circular motion to resemble a caterpillar. Some had had their mouths sewn shut, and had subsequently starved to death, whilst others had their hands sewn to different parts of their bodies. Most were found dead, but some were alive and begging to be killed, to release them from the pain. LaLaurie fled before she could be bought to justice – she was never caught.

Holy shit this is real.

This is a real life horror story, guys..

(via vladbride)


Durin's Folk (Extended Version)
Howard Shore

Can you really kill a dragon with a yew bow and a black arrow?



A repost of a piece I wrote about the physics of shooting a dragon and killing it with a single arrow from a Yew bow:

*some charts omitted because they’re int. property of someone else*

Tolkien’s famous scene in his novel The Hobbit wherein the dragon Smaug is slain by an arrow is one of the most famous nailbiter scenes in fantasy literature. Four factors have to be considered to make the shot physically plausible. The black arrow, the yew bow, the archer himself, and most certainly the dragon Smaug are each important variables.

 “In it smote and vanished, barb, shaft, and feather, so fierce was its flight.” (Tolkien, 237)

This mentions only that the arrow penetrated to the depth of its own length. So, for the purposes of this examination, I will deal with only the forces that could drive an arrow completely into the mass of a creature as large as Smaug, making no assumptions of further penetration, anatomical guesses about the natures of the wound, and whether or not the arrow hit any bone.

The Bow

“Now he shot with a great yew bow…” (Tolkien, 237)

For the purposes of the bow of Bard the Bowman, and based on Tolkien’s description of the bow, it’s appropriate to scale the draw weight of Bard’s bow upward to the top tier of practical draw weights and use the figure of 120lbs as a realistic and historic figure. This would enable an efficient longbow to accelerate an arrow to 220 feet per second or faster assuming only an average efficiency, since the rule of thumb is that arrow flight speed will be the draw weight plus 100 for an average longbow. (Strunk, 118)

The Black Arrow

“I had you from my father, and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true King under the Mountain…” (Tolkien, 237)

The black arrow used by Bard to shoot Smaug was made by the dwarves and had proven itself to be deadly and accurate over the years. In Bard’s own words “You have never failed me, and always I have recovered you.”

The arrow is the key to the success of the entire shot, since it is the arrow whose characteristics will produce the maximum possible penetration depth by conserving energy. (Knox, 11)

Thanks to the research of Dr. Ed Ashby and Harry Knox on African plains game like the cape buffalo and African elephant, we now have data that shows an arrow weight of 650 grains allows the best weight:momentum ratio per speed unit. After the weight is exceeded, performance only marginally improves.

Resistance to the arrow by tissue is also something that drastically effects penetration. So, the black arrow’s efficiency would not only have to be in conserving enough momentum to penetrate the skin, but preserving that energy by minimizing resistance through the tissue is quite important. (Ashby)

Harry Knox, building upon the work of Dr. Ashby, details this equation for the broadhead used on a hunting arrow as a means of predicting Drag (R0) in soft tissue within 95% of measured samples:

St is the frontal surface area of the tip,

At the angle of the tip,

As the blade’s sharpened angle,

H the blade’s height,

L the length of the cutting edge

Ats, is At for chisel points and 1 for cut on contact points,

and the result is in pounds. (Knox, 11)

(Above: Resistance recorded for various types of broadheads moving at speed through tissue)

However, since we have no data on the arrowhead of the black arrow and only have Bard’s words quoted above as a guide that it was an efficient arrow, it seems reasonable to align the R0 with a relatively average value comparable to somewhat efficient modern arrows and heads used to hunt dangerous game, rather than some fantastically low value that has no basis in realistic longbow archery.

Additionally, the surface of the arrow also has an effect on the resistance. Tests conducted on Teflon coated and painted arrows show greater penetration than identical arrows not thusly coated. (Knox, 14)

To keep values realistic, I used a total resistance value aligned with that of modern single blade hunting broadheads employing highly efficient geometry like the Grizzly single bevel 2 blade 190 grain model, but bumped the weight to 200 grains for a total arrow weight of 880 grains (650 grains for the shaft, 200 for the head, 30 grains for fletching and nock). R0=10, which is a reasonable value, rather than assuming it was on par with modern engineering and technology which has achieved as low as R0=4.

            Let’s see if a regular arrow and a yew bow one can build at home can kill a dragon.

Bard the Bowman

There is no given range in meters, but the book states that arrows were splintering against Smaug’s hide previous to the shot and that the particular flight path he took over the town of Dale when Bard shot him was his closest. So, even less powerful bows were able to hit him from farther distances and still deliver sufficient momentum to shatter the wood shafts of their arrows against Smaug’s belly. Distance wasn’t so great as to diminish the momentum of the arrow. (Tolkien, 236)

The size of the target area under Smaug’s arm (6” square) would be about the size of a medium sized bird. Men have used longbows effectively to hunt birds in flight, so the moving target of this size would not be an impossible or even uncommon shot for a skilled longbow archer. (Noer)


“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations…” (Tolkien, 211)

Smaug is described as hundreds of years old, and in the humorous article written by Michael Noer wherein his wealth is calculated for Forbe’s Magazine, the dragon’s length is given as 64 feet long. (Noer)

Calculating his weight is relatively easy by comparing to similarly sized dinosaurs like the Spinosaurus. As one of the largest fossils found, Spinosaurus’ length was a very similar 59ft and it weighed around 9 tons or 18,000 lbs. (wiki)

The chart below illustrates the correlation between penetration and high arrow efficiency/low R0, and the effect that body weight has on complete soft tissue penetration (pass through) of a target animal. However, we’re only concerned with penetratin of one side, so it’s fairly easy to see how resistance and momentum can really change penetration depth, provided no bone is hit.

Knox gives the simplified equation for penetration depth prediction as:

                               weight x speed

     Penetration = —————————

                               700 x Ro0.828

(Ro.828 is the value for resistance through soft tissue at flight velocity).

After crunching the numbers given to the arrow (880 grains), the speed imparted by the longbow at high draw weight and average efficiency (220 fps), and using the resistance presented by a somewhat efficient arrow and single blade broadhead  (R0=10), the penetration of the arrow into Smaug would have been  41.09 inches, assuming no bones were hit.

     880 grains x 220 fps

     ————————————— = 41.09 inches

     700 x 10o0.828

This is more than the depth for the average 29.9” longbow arrow to have “vanished, barb, shaft, and feather” even with a bow of average mechanical efficiency and a less than optimal arrow combination. (Mary Rose, 7)

So, it is entirely possible to kill a dragon with a yew bow and the right arrow paired with it, as long the archer can shoot and the target has a soft spot adjacent to its vital organs.

Ashby, Ed. Arrow Lethality,Part V: Predicting Arrow Penetration on Real Animals
A First Test of the Tissue Penetration Index (TPI)

Knox, Harry. African Bowhunting, Theory and Practice ,

Mary Rose Trust:

Noer, Micheal. “How Much is a Dragon Worth?”

Strunk, Paul, The Traditional Bowyer’s Bible, Volume 1, 1992

Tolkien, J.R.R., The Hobbit. 1985


Holy shit the Tolkien fandom doesn’t fuck around.

(via pibroch)

7 months ago

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