What is the most difficult machine to operate? © Getty Images

What is the most difficult machinery to operate?

From surgery to flight, there are lots of complex procedures and machinery that require special skill - but what is the most difficult?

Asked by: Peter Rowles, Essex

Advertisement

There is no Guinness World Record for the trickiest machine to control, but I suspect that keyhole surgery must be up there with the procedures requiring the most skill. A paper published last year in medical journal The Lancet found that the learning curve was far greater for laparoscopic procedures in prostate cancer than for traditional open surgery. Keyhole surgeons needed to do 750 procedures to match the success rates achieved by traditional consultants after just 250 operations. Fighter jets are surely among the hardest machines to operate too, requiring hundreds of hours of flight training. It takes some serious skill to manoeuvre at twice the speed of sound or fly across terrain below radar at under 50m altitude. Landing on an aircraft carrier is one of the biggest challenges – pilots must control machines travelling at 240km/h and land them on a patch of rolling, pitching deck just 45m long. Not for the faint-hearted.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.