Mark Denny

I'm a science writer, and my books explain how things work.

. (6) Their Arrows Will Darken the Sun: The evolution and science of ballistics

This is a semitechnical account of the physics of ballistic weapons (be they slings, bows, catapults, javelins, muskets, rifles or howitzers) that also covers their historical evolution. Semitechnical? Well, most books about ballistics are either totally nontechnical comic books aimed at kids of all ages or else highly technical and specialized treatises aimed (so to speak) at experts or college students. My books explains the physics of ballistics to the intelligent nonspeciialist with an interest in how it all works. Math anaysis is confined to a technical appendix, so as not to interrupt the flow of the main text. Writing this book was an interesting exercise in history as well as ballistics science. Did you know that longbows are much more efficient machines than are firearms? Do you know why rifling makes shooting more accurate and why the bullet's spin causes it to drift? Or why handguns tend to have larger calibers than rifles?


Minie balls--these are the earliest bullet-shaped bullets, introduced in the middle of the 19th century. They, and the new smokeless powder, revolutionized small-arms development.


 "The author writes clearly and authoritatively. His style is quite engaging, lively and often witty. This is a book that would likely be most appreciated by science buffs or any reader who is seriously interested in the science of ballistics, including those taking a course on this subject." G. Poirier (Amazon top 1000 reviewer).

"Perhaps the most useful book on ballistics for the layman ever." A. A. Nofi StrategyPage 2012-01-00

For more about this book, see the publisher's website

or the Amazon website

The modern "bullpup" design of assault rifle places the magazine and chamber behind the trigger. In other words, much of the barrel is set back into the stock. This retains the accuracy of longer-barreled rifles while shortening the weapon, so making it handier.


 Rocketry changed the game by enabling high-caliber projectiles packing a big punch to be launched from a light frame, including man-portable devices. Just don't stand in back of one when it is fired.