On the other hand, I was amazed how something so old-fashioned could do something so complex. Yet, if you were to take the piano apart, it probably wouldn't be that difficult to figure out how it worked; it's just a bunch of gears, chains, and hoses connected to an air pump.
This being a few days after the release of our AMC Eagle video, it got me thinking. The revolutionary part of the Eagle's 4WD system was its transfer case, which used a viscous coupling to send power to both the front and rear wheels. And while I lack the mechanical finesse to understand exactly how it works, a few dealership training films helped me explain it in layman's terms during our video.
It amazes me what engineers were able to accomplish through purely mechanical solutions. Modern cars have all kinds of advanced computers with wheel-slip detection and torque-vectoring software that allows vehicles to do unbelievable things. However, you'll have a much harder time understanding how they do it. 30 years ago, cars couldn't even stop in a straight line; now they'll automatically stop for you!
"We need to build a piano that plays itself and a car that can shift in and out of 4WD while driving on dry pavement."
Amazingly, somebody figured both of these things out, and their solutions are simple enough that a bum like me with no formal engineering education can understand them. Maybe I am too easily entertained...