Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Cross Sections of Bullets

Look at These Amazing Cross Sections of Bullets | Wired Design | Wired.com:

'via Blog this'

Some pretty photos that show the internal complexity of modern munitions. That, and highlight that strange and often troubling relationship between aesthetics and weapons.

A relationship that still bothers me at times.

There are number of weapons systems that are beautiful. Both the elegance of a simple and ruthlessly functional appearance, and also conceptually. Military systems do not exist in a vacuum of ideas. Instead they fill evolutionary niches within the ecology of platforms whose coverage of the battlefield can be divided up among many different functionality concepts. Direct fire and indirect fire. Assault or squad support. Smart or dumb; aimed and single shot; or area and surpressive fires. Manpack, man-carried, light, heavy, vehicle born / mounted. Anti-armor, anti-personnel, anti-material, soft kill, hard kill, non-lethal, anti-riot, area denial.

Once you know how to see a battlefield in terms of low- and and high-friction maneuver corridors, zones of cover and concealment, communications dead zones and electronic warfare high grounds, all those different types of weapons become tools to shape underlying dynamics of the battle space. Rather than passively accepting effects that the physical and electronic terrain of the air and ground impose, you can tweak and actively play them against the enemy to generate some truly negative synergies. Perfect Storms in a bottle, which come about through the precise application of force delivered through an optimized vector. That in itself is a thing of beauty in the right adrenaline-fueled life-and-death context.

Then again, as mentioned above, weapons do not exist in a vacuum, and the relationship between their beauty and the rest of the world is a disturbing one once you've seen them in action. There are effects that are permanent and unalterable by further human agency, or largely untouchable by mitigation or attempts at remediation. My time spent in the Balkans let me observe some of those, and how earlier ones had rippled down to haunt subsequent generations.

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