Jennie writes:

Hi TWiVers,

I have a follow up to Episode 455, in which you mentioned the film Unrest. The film is not yet available, but it opens in select US cities on September 22nd, including in New York at the IFC Center. The film will also air on PBS Independent Lens in January 2018.

Kathy wondered how Jen Brea was able to make the film, given that she has ME. Jen used technology to her advantage, sending film crews out to film interviews which she herself conducted via Skype from her bed. I believe that a great deal of editing and other work was done online as well.

Unrest has won prizes at Sundance, RiverRun, Nashville Film Festival, and other film festivals. I had a chance to see the film, and will be writing a review soon. I hope you will be able to see it in theaters or on PBS!



Anonymous writes:

Thank you for reading my message on TWiV 455.

Nothing particularly interesting has happened in the Voinnet saga since you discussed it two years ago on TWiV 347.

‘The Scientist’ published a piece on the new paper/editorial, and summarized some of the history:

Many papers have been retracted since the ETH Zurich investigation concluded, especially at the EMBO Journal (n = 5). Most papers (22?) were corrected rather than retracted.

Voinnet has kept his position at ETHZ, and new papers from his lab have started to appear. Pubmed search indicates that he has co-authored at least five papers in the past year. I’m not sure whether Voinnet deserves his “second chance”, but many of his trainees presumably did no wrong, so I am glad that they are successfully publishing at least some of their (previous) work.

However, Patrice Dunoyer, the main subject of the Nature Plants editorial, was not an innocent bystander. He was first author on many of the retracted papers, including the single most inexplicable case of band and lane duplication, and was therefore responsible for either misconduct or extreme sloppiness. This fact added some controversy to the new editorial.

p.s. Leonid Schneider has written about the case extensively on his blog, but I (and other plant scientists) do not like his tone, so I would not recommend linking to it.

Cameron writes:

Hi all,

I’m a grad student at Fresno State and wanted to comment on TWIV 451 with regard to Verily’s “Debug” Fresno, California campaign. Jodi, one of the project leaders from our mosquito control district, spoke about this project as part of a Fresno State guest lecture series this past Spring. Aedes aegypti were only recently introduced to Fresno and seem to maintain a strong foothold in a specific part of our city. While they have so far resisted attempts at traditional eradication, hopes are high that this campaign will help drive down the population enough to make traditional mosquito control more effective. I’ve been explaining the benefits of this campaign to my friends and family in town, and one of the biggest selling points was that only male mosquitoes (the non-biting ones) were being released by the millions. Here in Fresno we are unaccustomed to the ferocity of Aedes aegypti and will only need to deal with the increase in mosquito numbers short-term until populations hopefully come under control. It’s great to see Fresno’s name in the news in a positive light and I’m excited to share a bit of science outreach with my community around this project.

On a quick personal note, I wanted to thank you all for the excellent catalog of podcasts. I got my start with TWIV when I was an undergraduate researcher at UC Davis studying how biting midges transfer bluetongue virus between dairy cattle. Specifically, TWIV kept me entertained as I counted and sorted midges by the tens-of-thousands. I expanded into the TWIX family of podcast which kept me sharp as I took a couple years off before enrolling in a Masters program back in my hometown of Fresno. I’m currently working on a project to characterize the ticks and tick-borne diseases in the nearby mountains of Fresno. I always look forward to listening to episodes while I’m in the field, especially this week as I’ll be evading the 108ºF heat on the valley floor. Thanks again for all you do!


Steve writes:

Hi Vincent et al,

Thanks very much for having a look at the Byron Hyde enterovirus/M.E. idea for me. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to judge the merit of these ‘sciencey’ pieces, even when one is used to having t‎o weed them out. When they come from genuinely well-meaning people, one doesn’t feel inclined to dismiss them out of hand, as one does those that infest the more obvious woo sites.

There was a lot of interesting content in this week’s podcast (As usual! It must be great to be a young person in Lynda’s position! To my mind, there seem to be a high proportion of talented women in science these days–maybe I’m just looking in the right places.), but I’ll just stick to a couple of points:

You discussed the need for free access to scientific information again:  I don’t think that many people stop to imagine what a ‘Golden Age’ for scientific progress we have entered with the coming of the WorldWideWeb. When I was at college, it was usual to have to put in a British Library request to be sent a photocopy of a scientific paper, by post–that is, first, if we were even aware of its existence.  Alternatively, a class of 30 might have to wait their turn to borrow the same copy of an expensive book, just to write an essay.  Then, if you wanted to check the references, you’d have to put in further postal requests for each one–and pay, of course: No way would anyone be able to check more than a few. Could anyone back in the 70s have imagined that they would one day be able to just ‘click a link’ and read almost anything ever published, anywhere?!!! [Yes: 3 exclamation marks is appropriate in this monumentally significant case!] It is mind boggling: The WWW will be seen to have enabled a blossoming and acceleration of scientific progress, comparable with the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ in the flourishing of biodiversity.‎ (Let’s hope Humanity can live to reap the benefits!)

We really ought to be celebrating this more than we do. Giving a ‘closer to home’ example: What would it be like for the public to try and break down the biased work of researchers with vested interests‎, if we could not even read the papers? This is the position almost the whole public was in before the Internet: for the general public, ‘Science’ was a couple of rows of out of date ‘reference books’ that you weren’t even allowed to take out of the library, augmented by a handful of popular magazines and books, if you could afford them. Few people were ever in a position to, effectively, challenge scientists on their own turf, and so a number of them will have become accustomed to being able to say what they liked with little fear of challenge from outside their peer group. No wonder that some are feeling ‘vexed’ that the paywalls of their cosy little empire are beginning to crumble at last. This really is the dawn of the second Rennaisance, and more than just paywalls are going to be swept away!     Bad science is going too: And good riddance!

Another aspect of ‘paywall culture’ that needs to go, just as much as that related to scientific papers: This is the phenomenon of the regionally blocked ‘public information’ video. I can understand the need to make entertainment pay, but it’s crazy to hide stuff that needs to get maximum exposure, especially for health reasons.  A perfect example is in your readers’ link to the John Oliver, Vaccines, programme. I went to look at this, and found many YouTube links, but all leading to ‘The owner does not make this available in your region’‎. Oliver needs to realise that this means that people who search for his brilliant piece of public education material, will be able to access all the videos of cranks ‘exposing’ it as ‘vaxxer propaganda’, but not be able to see his crucially important work at all!

Could you, perhaps, get in touch with HBO and ask them to open it up for the public good? Surely Oliver would want it to reach as many people as possible? In the meantime, I have managed to find a link to a copy of the programme on ‘dailymotion’. There are some intrusive adverts, but the whole episode is there, so it is better than nothing. Perhaps you could include the link in your show notes, for people outside the US:

This counterproductive paywalling, or just plain blocking, of important public information resources even extends into the work of campaigning organisations. I can’t understand, for the life of me, why patient organisations, for example, frequently make campaigning videos, and then expect the people they are trying to reach, to pay for DVDs or actually go out to the cinema for special viewings! Are they crazy, or what? This is what their donations are *for*! Why is it that our culture expects everything we do to make money, even if the real price is that few people ever see the results of important educational work, paid for by charitable giving?!  I see, and remark, on examples of this crazy waste of material and effort all the time, but the material still stays locked away from all but a few who don’t really need to see it in any case. 🙁

I do hope that the producers of ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ have the sense to make it freely available once the cinema release is over, but I bet they won’t. Do we really only want to save ourselves from environmental catastrophe if we can make money from it?   The ultimate irony‎; and, possibly, the most inconvenient truth of all. 🙁

Sorry I’ve gone on a bit, but I think it needed to be said.

Best wishes to your brilliant team.


Luton, Beds


Still looking like a cold and wet August is on the way‎. (Standard British ‘Summer’ in fact. 🙂 ).

Zach writes:

Hi Twiv,

I found this paper and thought you guys might like it.

“Acquisition of Phage Sensitivity by Bacteria through Exchange of Phage Receptors”

From the Sunny Coast in Australia, it’s currently 19°C and sunny.



Mai writes:

Dear TWIV genius

I am watching the world athletics championships in London.

Some outbreaks of norovirus is going on in some athletes’ hotel.

One gold medalist contestant, Botswanian Isaac Makwala was denied to enter the stadium due to his illness.

Apparently he had an episode of gastroenteritis on Sunday evening.

Since then, he got better and team doctor said he is well enough to compete.

His illness was not confirmed to be caused by norovirus, yet he was assumed to be infected with the virus.

(Some web news is on

The race ended anticlimax.

Since the race, all BBC coverage was switched to his illness.

I realise this case is hugely depending on the IAAF policy for sickness.

But what would you do if you were the organiser?

Would you let the athlete to compete?

I would say case by case.

But I definitely would have tried to diagnose if he had infection to cause gastroenteritis.

This could have drawn a clean line.

Best regards

Anthony writes:

Sprinter Is Barred From Events at World Championships Because of Illness


But his biggest potential obstacle to winning gold, Isaac Makwala of Botswana, was missing from the final after being barred from competing by the sport’s governing body because of an illness.

Two of the cases, according to the public health agency, were confirmed by laboratory testing to be norovirus, which is often transmitted by close contact or by touching contaminated surfaces.


# # #

Jennie writes:

Hi TWiVers,

I thought you would like this quiz: What piece of lab equipment are you?

I am apparently an autoclave.



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