November 2, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Bacterial Flagellum Visualized

Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network found this link that came out last year but is too good to pass up: another visualization of the bacterial flagellum, the “poster child of the ID movement,” by Japanese researchers on NanoNet, the Nanotechnology Researchers Network Center of Japan.  The 02/05/2004 NanoNet Bulletin features the bacterial flagellum with still images from a stunning movie they made, A Rotary Nanomachine, downloadable from the site.  The movie contains crisp animations of the flagellar motor at work and features amazing facts about how the propeller is assembled, molecule by molecule, at the growing tip.  The film (34 minutes, 36mb) also tells the story of how challenging it was for the team to image the nanometer-scale parts of the system.
    Another issue, 09/16/2004 NanoNet Bulletin tells how professor Masasuke Yoshido first visualized the rotation of another biomolecular rotary motor, ATP synthase.  The entire website is concerned with nanotechnology, and many of the articles blur the distinction between biological and artificial machines.

This film makes a terrific follow-up to Unlocking the Mystery of Life for those interested in additional technical details of how the flagellum works.  The animations are superb.  Nobody would be able to look at this system and say it wasn’t designed – it looks for all the world like finely-crafted machinery.  The researchers are in awe of the precision of the parts and the efficiency of the motor.  Is it any wonder that there is no mention of evolution?  On the contrary, the word design is key: “Looking at the shape of the flagellar basal body,” said Keiici Namba, the interviewee, “it is obviously designed to rotate.”
    Dr. Namba also said something that shows how biological design can stimulate a Darwin-free research program: “Looking at a picture of the flagellar motor on the wall every day,” he said in Asianized English, “I feel up towards revealing the mystery by any means.”  How it works – and what we can learn from the design – those ideas borrow nothing from Darwinian theory, and sound remarkably similar to the motivations of Robert Boyle, James Joule and many other creation scientists throughout history.  None of the People of Froth (the Anti-ID crowd) could claim that these Japanese researchers had a religious motivation for making this film or for doing their cutting-edge research.  School boards can show this film as proof that design-based science is powerful and productive.  The end of science?  Bringing science to a halt?  Taking us back to the Dark Ages?  Bosh—this is the future of active, fruitful, motivating research that will inspire young scientists and bring the best technology to bear on understanding biological realities (see 10/29/2005 story).
    Intelligent design is not so much about making additions to science, but rather some blessed subtractions: removing the useless fluff of Darwinian speculation and storytelling (12/22/2003) that produces nothing but vaporware on back order.  Throughout history (see online book), the design perspective has mastered the machinery of science that produces the goods.

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