szczys writes: The internal combustion engine is amazing, and it continues to evolve. Carburetors gave way to fuel injection, and a computer now monitors all kinds of sensors to ensure these engines operate at peak efficiency. But there is one thing that has remained largely unchanged: the cam shaft. This is a device responsible for mechanically timing the operation of the cylinders. It's possible to build an engine that uses digitally controlled actuators instead of a camshaft to decide when each cylinder should fire. These exist as prototypes — we have the technology, so why aren't we building with it? The answer is that change is hard, and as with the carburetor it could take an outside force (in that case mandatory efficiency benchmarks) to get automobile manufacturers to wager a bet on new technology.