Documentary Reveals How Bacterial Flagella Self-Assemble
Previously, I have reviewed the intricate molecular machinery by which bacterial flagellar assembly is controlled and regulated (see also my defense of the flagellum's irreducibly complex nature, here). Now, thanks to this documentary, you can visualize the incredible process for yourself.
The documentary concludes with a telling statement from Professor Keiichi Namba of Osaka University:
The brain of a small fruit fly uses energy in the micro-watts for complex flight control and visual information processing to find and fly to food. I don't think a supercomputer could yet simulate what the fruit fly brain does even while using megawatts of energy. The difference of over ten orders of magnitude and the level of energy used is an indication of just how incredible biological systems are. It even exists in bacteria. The flagellar motor and protein export apparatus use proton motive force, or mechanisms that utilize the flow of protons at extremely small energy, close to the thermal noise level. Understanding the basic physical mechanism behind them will bring about the time when they can be actually utilized for engineering. It is work to achieve the dream of resolving global environmental and energy issues. That is how big it is.How biologists, who spend their lives studying systems like this, manage to miss the unambiguous design implications never ceases to baffle me.
Be sure to also check out Dr. Scott Minnich's lecture on flagellar assembly, also available on YouTube.