Robin writes:

Gorillas are people

Dear TWIV gorillas

“Chimps and gorillas are sympatric”…. “We’re going to get into that later” ……

Consider politicians, lobbyists, economists, banksters, and lawyers as a group. Consider gorillas as another group. Towards which group do you have better feelings?

Next, they should study dung beetles (or their equivalent with respect to gorilla dung) to see what role, if any, they may have with the immunodeficiency viruses.

Scottish Deer Are Culprits in Bird Killings

Field Cameras Catch Deer Eating Birds—Wait, Why Do Deer Eat Birds?

Trudy writes:

Dear TWiVers,

The German word for “shit seeker” is “Scheissesucher”.

If you’re ever in need of real-time translation from English to German or German to English while TWiVing, please feel free to text me.

I also wanted to mention that I agree with your listener who asked for an episode on respiratory syncytial virus.  While the lack of progress in this area (at least as far as a vaccine is concerned) has been frustrating, it might be worth updating listeners about where we stand right now, and also provide some information about why the development of an effective RSV vaccine has been such a challenge.  RSV infection is after all of notable clinical significance, especially for parents of infants and toddlers.

Kind Regards,


Peter writes:

Dear TWIV-team seeking for linguistic truth,

here is a small assortment of possibilities:

1. very technical:



2. literal:


(“Scheisse” is very rude; but nobody would understand “Scheisssucher”, it moreover sounds like an insult similar to “f***ing seeker”; and btw: look at 3 consecutive “s”!!! All correct.)

3. scientifical:



4. best choice:


(instead of “seeker” here “collector”=Sammler is used, but please NOT in the sense of “collecting stamps”. And it could be mistaken with the following gear for dogpoop:


You see, Germany is complicated.

…as always: many greetings from Wiesbaden, Germany


@Kathy: to find (= finden) has the meaning of “to discover”

Matthias writes:

Now that the weather is bike-friendly once again, I get to listen to more TWiV shows on my way to and from work.

On TWiV 327, you wondered about the German translation of “shit seekers”. Kathy’s right with “Sucher” for seeker, so “Scheiße-Sucher” would be the literal translation.

However, a word of caution: Don’t omit the “e”.

A “Scheiß-Sucher” quickly transforms a diligent feces scout into someone who is doing a shitty job at seeking; or, even worse, into an insult (in terms of: “oh, here comes another bloody seeker”).

If I had to find an informal German expression for these people, I would probably call them “Kacke-Sammler” (crap collectors).

But I’ll stop here with this highly interesting scientific discussion.

Matthias Fischer

Steve writes:

Hi Vincent,

Congratulations on reaching your 100th TWiM, by the way:   I don’t always understand it, but I’m sure it will begin to sink in if you can keep it going long enough! 🙂

On the most recent TWiV, I have to say that I was quite impressed by your inability to find a more suitable word than ‘people’ to describe our increasingly less numerous relatives. They might not always be the best mannered of people but there are plenty of humans who are much worse.

I have, actually, come across the use of the word ‘person’ in zoological publications before, used for much ‘lower’ life forms than gorillas. I cannot give you a reference, but I used to buy old science books that I came across in second-hand shops, and, in an old marine biology book, I found that the individual polyps of the Portuguese Man-of-war, were called ‘persons’. I presume this was to recognise that they were individual members of a communal organism, rather than cells of one organism.

If, in times gone by, the individual ‘personhood’ of the lowly polyp, was recognised, there should be no problem with recognising communities of higher apes as the people they, no-doubt, think themselves to be!

Keep it up. (y)

Sharon writes:

Hello TWIVers,

Thank you for discussing career choices on TWIV in addition to the science.  In episode 323 in the midst of a heated debate about whether or not to do a postdoc, Vincent mentioned that he likes the idea of staff scientists (and I agree).  However, from the science “gossip” that I hear, most PIs are not hiring staff scientists.  I hear this is because they cost more.  Would you all comment on this a little further please?  Do you think most PIs share Vincent’s thoughts regarding staff scientists?  Thanks in advance for your answers!


Sharon, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow in Cell Biology

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Todd writes:

Dear TWiVocateurs,

On TWiV 323 you read a letter from Lenn, who recounted his experience on Twitter of rapidly being blocked by an anti-vaccine ideologue. He asked for your advice and the consensus was along the lines of “don’t bother”.

Masochistic advocate for public health that I am, I actually engage some of these folks from time to time on Twitter. However, I enter into it understanding that more likely than not, I will not change their mind. Instead, my goal, both on Twitter and elsewhere on the web, is to be an example for those who may be watching that are confused or on the fence. I strive to present a calm demeanor and stick to the known facts, as far as they’re currently known. The result is typically that the anti-vaxxer gets more and more unreasonable. If they do not block me right away, I eventually get around to the question, “What would convince you that your position is incorrect?” This generates one of two responses: they block me (a trend that has increased with the recent negative attention the anti-vaccine movement has been getting), or they respond that nothing will change their mind.

My hope is that these interactions show those who have questions that on the on side are reasonable people willing to engage and talk about the questions, even the hard ones, and on the other are entrenched ideologues who would rather vilify pro-science folks and shut down conversation.

Just my two cents on the subject. Currently 18C/-8F and we’re rivaling Buffalo, NY for total snowfall this year, at nearly 8′ of snow (probably more than that by the time you read this).


Todd W.

P.S. The neighborhood yeti is wondering when you’ll do an episode on cryptozoonotic illnesses.

David writes:

Dear TWiV Hosts,

An article appeared in the NY Times that received the following comment from a reader: “Your characterization of the anti-vaccination propaganda as an ‘Unreason at its culmination’ is not only unjust and absurd, but even ridiculous and tends to show much ignorance of the facts.  You never could and never will be able to prove beyond a doubt your statement that vaccination long since proved its utility and its harmlessness, for this is not so.  If you had followed up and studied more the disastrous results caused by vaccination you would perhaps have less to say in its favor…”

The comment, and the article, appeared in the NY Times in 1910.   (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the article to which the comment refers). I recently accidentally stumbled upon some newspaper articles from the late 1800s and early 1900s on the anti-vaccine movement.  With slight changes in the language, the stories are not really different from those of today. I guess things haven’t really changed.

On TwiV 323 there was some discussion and links on the problems with using data to convince people of the benefits of vaccination.  I like data, but not everyone finds it helpful or convincing, unfortunately.  The anti-vaccine movement relies on personal stories.  We can do that too.  I always reveal that my kids are fully vaccinated. And I like to send people to  People’s personal stories of their child dying of a vaccine preventable disease makes a pretty powerful and emotional argument in favor of vaccination.

I also wanted to recommend this video on the NY Times that is quite good and features Seth Mnookin, whom you had on TWiV some time back.

I don’t know the temperature outside.  But it is 11C in the hallway and 16C in my lab so I hope they fix the heat soon.  I suppose I need a warm water bath for my “room temperature” incubations.



David Esteban

Biology Department

Vassar College

Nathan writes:

Hi there,

Just sending a suggestion for your website that would improve its accessibility. Below each TWIV episode you show the links (basically topics) for the episode. My suggestion would be to have hours/minute times of each topic discussed in the podcast which a website viewer could click, bringing them to that part of the conversation/episode. If a viewer has a particular topic of interest in the episode, it is hard to find that specific point in the podcast. Currently one can only resort to trial and error, clicking on general parts of the small podcast bar in order to find a specific area.

Thank you,


Charles writes:

Dear TWiV’ers,

Hello from sunny Adelaide, Australia, where it is currently sunny, 31.1 °C, with 32% humidity and a pleasant 8 knot northerly breeze.

It was with some interest that I listened to TWiV 323: A skid loader full of viromes.  As someone living with Crohns disease, the volume of research that is currently being published on the gut microbiome/virome and their effects on diseases as diverse as MS and Ulcerative Colitis warms what’s left of my bowels.   It appears to me that research into the human virome/microbiome has really been ramping up in recent years, but i’m not sure if that’s actually the case or whether science writers have only started covering this area of research in recent years.

Thank you for your podcasts and keep up the good work.  You do a great job in showing that science is fun and in communicating current research to a general audience.  My inclination and training is in the physical sciences so the details sometimes (often) go straight over my head, but that was often how I felt at university and I somehow managed to graduate in the end.


P.S. Have you done a TWIM podcast on the human gut?  I scanned through the titles and didn’t see anything, but with some of the titles it’s a bit hard to tell 🙂

Judi writes:

Thought you all should see  this….

69 degrees F, clear  skies,  70% relative humidity. calm winds, Barometer 30.09

Just another day in paradise in San Diego….


–ps  thanks for being wonderful REAL people (even the flaws), putting out good science, and taking on the world with passion and humor.  If you come to San Diego, let me know.  I’d like to take you out for Mexican food – it’s the least I can do.

(yes, the offer is also for Elio, even if he lives here !)

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