Centriole? Huh?



This cool looking picture was in Post #28 here:

and in Post #177 here:

I was asked to Google it, but got an avalanche of information dumped all over my head.

What is this cool looking stuff?

Since this was off topic in that discussion, I decided to ask about it separately.

Thanks to Professor Swamidass for posting that nice looking picture that attracted my attention.

(John Harshman) #2

It’s a cartoon picture of a centriole.

The Flagellum is Not a Motor?
Centriole? Huh?

Centriole? Is that the logo of a football club in the Italian League? :slight_smile:
They must be pretty bad compared to the Milano team. Don’t recall ever hearing of that club.

(John Harshman) #4

Google will tell you much more than you want to know. Incidentally, the structure is very similar to that of a eukaryote flagellum.


Google spilled an avalanche of information related to that weird term that it’s simply overwhelming.

I’m sure professor Swamidass can explain it in a compacted but clear way.

(John Harshman) #6

If I were you, I’d try Wikipedia first.

(John Dalton) #7

Yep. Just read through it, I feel like I have a pretty good grip on it. One question I have is how they produce celia

(John Harshman) #8

Cilia? Wikipedia has something on that too.

(John Dalton) #9

Yes cilia :slight_smile: Think I had a former student in mind there


Thanks for the wiki suggestions.

(Herculean Skeptic) #11

@Timothy_Horton Here’s your cue, Tim… Do your thing!!

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #13

@pawas great list. What did you learn?


Dr Swamidass,
That’s a very good question you’ve asked. Thanks.
I haven’t read all the papers in the list. But thought their subjects were somehow related to the discussed topics. I could be wrong, though.
From a systems engineering perspective, it’s very fascinating to look at these interesting biological things. I think I’m learning a little more every day, but very slowly.
However, I don’t understand why so many people spend so much time discussing how the observed biological systems came to be. I rather focus in on trying to understand how they work. It’s like a mechanical engineer being fascinated with car engines, but spending more time on their history, instead of trying to understand how they work. Obviously, in the case of the engineer, most of what is there to learn about car engines is well documented. That doesn’t seem the case in biology. Many outstanding questions remain. That’s one of the reasons biology is more fascinating. There’s always a discovery around the corner.
Also I noticed there are discussions about the validity of some analogies between biological and engineered systems. I don’t see many of those analogies, because the two types of systems are not comparable. When a car gets hit by another car and its chassis gets damaged, it doesn’t recover its original shape by itself, as it’s the case of some biological systems.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

Well said.

That is exactly my point. Molecular biology is just a different “animal” than we are used to in every day experience. It is human nature (and biological practice) to draw analogies between biological systems and things we understand from daily life. Biologists do this too, but it is critical to keep in mind how fundamentally foreign the molecular and biological world is from ordinary experience. All the analogies fail, and most of them fail very quickly. The risk from every analogy is that it will prevent us from seeing the truth behind it.

@pawas, you are getting it. I love how you were drawn to the beauty that fell out of an argument, and just wanted to know more about it, independent of the polemic agenda. That is the spirit of a scientist in you. Virtue in the wasteland, right?

(John Harshman) #16

What, you aren’t into evolutionary biology? I think that’s the most interesting part. Takes all kinds, I suppose.


Professor Swamidass,
If the body of the cars we drive could regenerate themselves the way our skin does, then perhaps we could draw some analogies between the two types of systems. We’re not there yet, as far as I’m aware of.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #18

We can already draw analogies. We just have to keep solidly in view where the analogies fails. Yes [some biological system] is like [X], but it is also different from [X] in important ways. That will likely always be true, even if we somehow figure out how to make regenerating cars, It might close some of the gaps, but there would be much larger list of differences that have to be carefully understood independent of the analogy.

Evolutionary biology is grand, but so is the rest of biology too. Turning everything into a debate about origins often distracts from the intrinsic beauty of biology.


That’s a valid point.

Also, focusing our research interest mainly in understanding exactly how the biological systems function may lead us to breakthrough treatments for currently incurable diseases and/or the development of preventive dietary or lifestyle recommendations accurately adjusted to individual differences and/or specific issues.

Also we can come up with interesting engineering ideas after observing and understanding the functioning of certain biological systems in order to produce equipments, devices, gadgets, tools.

The biological systems aren’t well documented yet. Documenting their functioning thoroughly should be pursued by research scientists. Fortunately it seems like most of them realize this already. At least that’s the impression one gets from reading their papers.


Please see my reply to Professor Swamidass on this. Thanks

(John Harshman) #21

Who has proposed turning everything into a debate about origins? I was responding to pawas, who was surprised that anyone was interested in evolutionary biology at all. Obviously, we can be interested in all aspects of biology, of which evolution is an important part.

Note that comparative (i.e. phylogenetic) study is invaluable in understanding how systems function. A lot of that work you think is the only good part of biology rests upon an evolutionary base. But there’s a lot more to biology than its medical or practical applications, so I reject your premise entirely. Knowledge is valuable for its own sake, even if it doesn’t help us cure cancer.