The Flagellum is Not a Motor?


(Herculean Skeptic) #61

I felt like when I left we were in a happy place. We could refer to something as a motor because it served the same function as a motor. Now I return and you kids have made a complete mess of this room!

Tim, really, it looks and acts like a motor. It turns a propeller of sorts that propels the bacterium. It should be okay to use that label. What’s over the top is to posit that because something works like a motor, it was intelligently designed and must point to a creator. Everyone should stand their ground where it’s important. Calling something a motor, like Howard Berg did is just fine.

Of the bones in my ear, none of them are actual hammers, anvils, or stirrups, but everyone knows what I’m referring to if I mention them. If I tell you that ears must be intelligently designed because they contain hammers, you’ve got something to argue about.

I just think it is more fun here if we can allow ourselves to talk about things that we don’t need to fight about. Then the actual fighting seems a bit more tolerable… :slight_smile:

(Timothy Horton) #62

The problem we all have is the dishonest equivocation in the ID argument that all motors are designed. I have no problems calling anything a motor as long as the IDers make it clear they understand motor does not equal designed.

I’m pretty sure I made the same point back when this flagellum nonsense resurfaced days ago.

ETA: Here it is in a reply to SCD on the other thread

(Herculean Skeptic) #63

@Timothy_Horton Right, I get it. @T_aquaticus mentioned a similar concern. I’m totally sympathetic and have also said that it is a mistake to call something a motor and then conclude that it had to have been designed.

Here’s my point, for you and everyone else on your side. Calling it a motor is not wrong, unless, like @swamidass says, you say that it is exactly like a human-made electric motor. No one says that. No one believes that either. So it simply isn’t worth getting upset about a person referring to the bacterial flagellum as a motor. Because, as we’ve all agreed, we’re referring to it as a motor because the purpose it serves is the same as the motor with which we’re all familiar.

Now, go on and insist that anyone who says that bacterial flagellar motor = intelligent designer to prove it. The burden of proof is on them.

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #64

I’ve not read the entire thread yet and so someone else probably already addressed this—but I’ve always assumed that if the “bacterial flagellum-motor” changes directions more quickly, it is largely a matter of scaling. That is, the tiny mass involved would surely mean that it would take very little energy to overcome the inertia of the angular momentum. Yet, I am NOT a physicist and I’ve never tried to verify my thinking with a qualified expert. Can someone tell me if I’m thinking in the right direction?

I think you posted some great questions, Michael.

(Herculean Skeptic) #65

I think that’s a great question and I do not know the answer either. I have wondered about the efficiency, speed and the ability to change directions. Mind-boggling what it can do. It would be interesting to know if the lower mass leading to less inertia on that scale would allow the direction change. But one would think that the torque is similarly scaled, too. Maybe @dga471 could help? At any rate, it is a very interesting mechanism and easy to see why so many are interested in it!

(Herculean Skeptic) #66

Dang, I’m crushed Neil. (Well, a little bit.) You really think it is lying to refer to it as a “motor”? Even in light of this?

But otherwise, I agree completely about it being pointless. It’s really a non-issue. The issue is whether or not it, or any other thing, was designed or evolved.

(Timothy Horton) #67

He said call it a TIE, not a lie.

I know, I have those old guy eyes too. :wink:

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #68

Flagella are pretty nifty.™

We can all agree on that.

(I once thought about naming a child Flagella, if I ever had a daughter. Fortunately for that child’s sake, I had no daughters.)

(Dale Cutler) #69

You’re too sweet. I was not making any argument for design, if you will look. I was merely making an argument for calling a motor a motor. I am not being disingenuous, and your accusation is… false. Thoroughly.

(Timothy Horton) #70

And I was referring to Creationists who equivocate over definitions. You seem to have this poor persecuted martyr complex, that or a guilty conscience.

(Herculean Skeptic) #71

@nwrickert Oh, man… guilty as charged. Thanks Tim.… If you hadn’t bolded the word, I would have misunderstood it once again! Thanks… so sorry Neil. Carry on. You’re still as logical and intelligent as I assumed you would be. My bad. :slight_smile:

(Herculean Skeptic) #72

I think we can call this one over now. Anyone who is even open to the idea of design should now understand why those who are not open to it are sensitive to the use of the word “motor” to describe the bacterial flagellum. Probably for good reason, too. If we agree to use it to describe the part and how it operates, but not make the illogical assumption that motor = motor maker, we should be good!

Now, we (hopefully) can get on to other bigger and better things! :slight_smile:

(Herculean Skeptic) #73

Hahahaha… a motto to live by for sure!!

Then you would have been known as that former professor and minister who was killed in his sleep by his very angry daughter. And some think that there is no God!!! :slight_smile:

(Timothy Horton) #74


Centriole? Huh?
(Neil Rickert) #75

It can be wrong without that implying that you are lying. And whether it is wrong depends somewhat on the context such as the strictness with which people are using terminology. In this thread, there isn’t much consensus on whether “motor” is an appropriate term.

It’s a disagreement about meaning rather than a disagreement about facts. At times, sorting out such a disagreement can be important. But this does not appear to be one of those times.

(Herculean Skeptic) #76

Agreed. Sorry for the confusion. I was not being serious by I did misread “tie” as “lie”… Thanks for explaining.

(John Harshman) #77

I think you will only confuse people if you start bringing the eukaryote flagellum into a discussion of the eubacterial flagellum.

(John Harshman) #78

I suggest that it may be a matter of friction and viscosity. Bacteria don’t coast. If the flagellum stops, the bacterium stops instantly because water resistance is more important at small scales. Similarly, if the flagellum stops being driven, it will stop very quickly. The water overcomes the filament’s inertia of motion, bringing it to a halt, ready to be pushed in the opposite direction.

(Dale Cutler) #79

If my family were a lot of biomolecular engineers, and from an early age I had been exposed to the workings of “the molecular world”, I might just intuit design. :wink:

(Dale Cutler) #80

The movement of a eukaryote flagellum could maybe be compared to piezoelectric oscillatory motion rather than a rotary motor.