It seems as if there haven’t been too many updates here lately. I’ve been quite distracted with studying and getting the simulation of multi body systems into my head. And by doing so I stumbled over a few quite amazing papers and dissertations that seem to cope pretty much everything you need to know for a fully fledged physics engine (assuming you have some spare time).
For example the dissertation of Brian Mirtich (which you should be able to download here or here) covers just about everything from advanced collision detection to collision response. Even the calculation of inertia tensors in 3D is contained and the appendix covers all the math basics such as quaternion arithmacy and a rigid body primer. The whole thing wheighs a bit over 250 pages and is freely available. It still requires a lot of math knowledge, but as a math major I hope I have enough knowledge.
The method he describes in his thesis is the so called impulse based simulation which is stated in contrast to analytical methods as they are used in David Baraffs papers (as far as I understand). Instead of trying to fulfill all constraints simultaneously, instead if a constraint is violated it applies an impulse to the constrained bodies so that the constraint stays fulfilled within the next integration time horizon.
A more recent version of Mirtich’ aproach can be found at the site of Jan Bender (www.impulse-based.de). He also wrote a dissertation over impulse based simulation (however in German) which has less math in it. The best is: his code is available under the zlib license! There is also a lot of documentation in English available, so go check it out!
Oh, and of course I have not just been doing multi body simulation stuff. I was playing around with Blender already for a while to have a nice visualization for my thesis. And I finally made a model for a character in a game I have been planning already for ages. Now I added a little movement to the model. Here you have it:
Be nice, she is a little older (and my first animation). You can get the full resolution version here.