complex mechanisms…

and i’m not talking about the Federal Reserve, or anything like that.

i mean the complicated objects we use every day – cars, computers, microwave ovens, you name it.

what i was wondering was, how many of us understand what happens when we manipulate things, and how deeply?

take cars, for example.

most people know that you have to have gas, oil and water in the car for it to work – but they don’t know why. they know when you press the brake pedal, the car stops – but not how. i (because i happen to be a car mechanic) know exactly what happens when i press the brake pedal or turn the key – not just that the car stops (or starts), but process that changes my intent (or signal, if you prefer) into action.

but i couldn’t tell you what happens when i dial a cel phone.

so, how many of your everyday tools do you really understand? i mean, the way they work – not just the results of inputs. it scares me a little how few of my daily tools i understand…

quote of the day:

“Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful, and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous, and loathed because they impose slavery.” – Bertrand Russell

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2 Responses to “complex mechanisms…”

  1. David Moulton Says:

    “Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful, and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous, and loathed because they impose slavery.” – Bertrand Russell

    Mmmm. Your post has given me much food for thought. The bicycle is a machine that doesn’t fit the pattern. Far from hideous, and rather than impose slavery, it sets a man free.

  2. jhota Says:

    except for some glaring exceptions (full-squish mountain bikes or Rohloff Speedhubs, for examples), the bicycle is far from complex…

    i think this lack of complexity of the bicycle is probably one of its greatest charms – anyone can understand the mechanics of its operation, as it is exposed to the world. it is simplicity in transportation personified.

    “When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.” – Elizabeth West

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