Jens writes:

I may be wrong, but I think Occam’s Razor is not about preferring a simpler hypothesis over a more complex one in general (because Nature is complicated) but it is more about  skipping unnecessary steps in a thinking process that either way would yield the same result. For instance, if you ask the question “Who made the universe”, the answer could be “Nobody” or “God”. But if you chose “God” as an answer then the logical follow-up question would be “Who then made God?”. If your answer then is: “Nobody, God always existed”, then Occam’s razor would demand to skip that entire step because you could have answered “Nobody, the universe always existed”…




Anybody coming to ICV in Singapore?

Kaine writes:

My name is Kaine and I manage communications for the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I came across your cool TWiV podcast on gender disparity at virology conferences that was based on a paper by one of our faculty members, Ann Palmenberg. It was a great listen! I wanted to also let you know about a recent press release that happened on the paper. I’m sending it because I saw that you linked to the actual paper on your site but could include this more general audience-friendly read if you wanted as well.

Do let me know if you have any questions.


Kaine Korzekwa

Marketing Specialist

Department of Biochemistry

University of Wisconsin–Madison

Stephen writes:

Another article about how science education is changing.

The Traditional Lecture Is Dead. I Would Know—I’m a Professor | WIRED

Paul writes:

Dear TWiVters

Another great episode last week – episode 447 and the un-impacted pachyderm.

One reader’s email on the wave of predatory journals that are currently being inflicted upon us, stimulated a robust discussion – I agreed with all of your comments. Like so many of my colleagues, I’m inundated every day by offers of guaranteed publication in a bright new journal, requesting my services as an editor on same or having my abstract accepted for oral presentation at a new, must attend meeting at which a bevy of Nobel laureates will be in attendance. An early morning task before I head off to work, is rapidly deleting them all without so much as a second thought.

But what you didn’t talk about was the worrying trend in predatory behaviour by well established and respected journals – perhaps a consequence of their traditional business model faltering as the new OMICS wave bears down.

One such journal scoped interest in a special edition on dengue with a colleague of mine – a highly respected leader in the field. My laboratory has worked in Dengue research for the last 30 years and we were asked to contribute, as were a number of leading groups around the world. We were tasked with providing relatively short, state-of-the art reviews on selected topics – up to 2,500 words. We all dutifully put in the effort to produce a collection of reviews that I believe provide a comprehensive, yet concise overview of the dengue viruses, the diseases they cause, diagnostics available and control strategies under development.

The privilege of putting in all of this effort? A bill to each of us, varying between US$5,500 and more than US$8,000 as “page charges”. The subsequent email traffic between the contributors and the journal became a little heated – with the journal ultimately agreeing to a 10% discount. Nevertheless, the dent to my budget was still significant!

A different sort of predatory behaviour, but this experience has burnt all of us and I’m writing this email as a cautionary tale to others who may be tempted by invitations from highly respected journals to contribute to their bottom line. Just be aware that there is likely to be a sting in the tail of that invitation.

Keep up the great work – it’s the middle of winter here in Australia and the family were out today in T-shirts strolling along the Brisbane River boardwalk in a “balmy” 22degC. Crazy!



PS The journal is The Journal of Infectious Diseases – you may not want to mention the name.

Professor Paul R Young | Head of School |

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences (SCMB) | The University of Queensland | Brisbane | Queensland | Australia |

Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre (AID) | The University of Queensland | Brisbane | Queensland | Australia |

Matt writes:

Hello TWIV council,

My name is Matt and I’m writing from UW Madison. It feels like the first day of summer here in Wisconsin (whether that be the temperature in the 60s, the beautiful sunny sky, or the fact that finals are over, I’m not sure.) I have to express my jealousy that Vincent’s students get one week to study for exams. Like Kathy’s students, we have a single day. But I survive, and I finished my last final yesterday, which was virology, so I thought it was fitting to listen to the most recent episode of twiv. (By the way, my professors are excellent, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of ASV.)

I have actually been listening to TWIV since last summer. I want to study immunology in grad school. Unfortunately I had a hard time finding an immunology podcast, but instead stumbled onto TWIV. I started listening back then and would tune in every so often, but could not really understand what was going until I got part way through my virology course this semester. I have to echo a recent emailer’s sentiments about really enjoying when you sit down and talk with a panel of scientists. It’s really awesome to see how they got into science, and get such a wide ranging discussion about their various research projects. I especially enjoyed your discussion with the ZEST team here on campus.

I’ve learned a lot from your podcast, and I actually have a summer research abroad project involving HIV that I’m very excited about. I’ve always thought viruses were cool, but now I actually know something about how they work!

Keep up the great work, and if you know any immunologists that would be great podcasters as well, you should push this toward starting a TWII: This week in Immunology.

Thanks for all you do,


Anthony writes:

“Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.”—J.D. Salinger

Posted on Facebook by PEN America

Josephine writes:

Hello Twivologists,

Greetings from southern Alberta where the weather is a glorious 27°C with clear blue skies and a light breeze. And yes, I know Dave the sheep shearer – I introduced him to the Twix podcasts! Truly, my favorite podcasts!

I wanted to let you and your listeners know about the 2017 Rabies in the Americas Conference which is being held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 22-26 October 2017. This is an annual conference and this year it is Canada’s honour to host the event. Attendees come, not just from the Americas, but from all over the world. There will be simultaneous translations of all presentations into English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. More information regarding the conference can be found at for those interested in attending and/or presenting.

Thank you for such a wonderful family of podcasts.  I no longer listen to them on my commute to work as I have retired from working in the rabies diagnostic lab,  but now y’all accompany me on my daily walks.


Josephine Kush

Anthony writes:

It appears that all that needs to be done is to claim that the research will lead to a better understanding of Autism or Alzheimer’s.

This study actually is very important, but I need to wonder about the relevance to Autism.  My understanding is that mouse vocalizations are calls (instinctual), not language.  

The invoking of a key to a cure for Autism or Alzheimer’s is all but de rigueur in animal studies — the more baseless the better.

Way back in the mid-’70s, I heard Juan Cortes (a Psychology professor at Georgetown University) say that the funds used in most studies claiming to help children with cognitive impairment would be better spent by taking the kids out for ice cream.


Jay writes:

Hello everybody, just writing to let you all know how much I enjoy your podcast and to say thank you. I look forward to each new episode as they are very entertaining and full of in-depth leading edge science discussion.

My background is in aerospace engineering so I have to work hard to understand the subject matter at times, but I thoroughly enjoy doing my homework on terms and concepts I don’t understand.  You do an excellent job in combining high level information with molecular level details, and your recent addition of overview and summary discussions are a real bonus for me.

I discovered your TWIV podcast in a roundabout kind of way as historically I have shied away from microbiology and virology. A year and a half ago I was presented the opportunity to enroll in a gene therapy clinical trial for hemophilia B, and in researching the trial I Google searched on Dr. Katherine High who was the senior author of the study.    Vincent knows where this is going…

I found a very informative video interview with Dr. High, done by none other than Vincent Racaniello! This led me quickly to Vincent’s online Virology lectures which I have watched and continue to rewatch. From there it was a short jump to becoming an avid TWIV listener, and since then TWIM and TWIP too!

As for the gene therapy trial, with my confidence bolstered by listening to the very impressive Dr. High and my newfound understanding of gene therapy, I joined the trial. Since then, the AAV vectors have done their job, and I am now a happy host to a bunch of Padua mutant FIX genes. My hepatocytes have been diligently producing hyperactive factor IX protein for over a year now and without even one traumatic bleed in that time, I consider myself functionally cured (for now, and hopefully for years to come).

I distinctly remember watching a scene from a just-released Star Trek movie back in 1986 (the dark dark dark days for hemophilia) and being put off by Dr. McCoy giving a pill to a hospital patient, instantly curing her of kidney failure – how unbelievable I thought, and how I wished that could happen to me.

Well, thirty years later, after a one half hour intravenous injection of a clear liquid – it did.

The medical science you all do is very real, and has a very real effect on real people. For your dedication and perseverance I thank you and your many listeners.

Bye for now, and I look forward to many future episodes of This Week in Virology, the kind that make you sick – or in my case the kind that make you better!


Cambridge, Ontario

Currently 17 degrees Celsius with CAVOK skies – sunny and just a few fair weather cumulus floating by.

Neva writes:

Super TWIVs,

A wonderful example of science communication.

MIchael Summers, the author of Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System, is interviewed by Father Robert Ballecer on the TWIT.TV network program Triangulation.

Dr Summers entertainingly shares his delight in his field and is careful to say what is known and what is speculation.

A fun interview and …..SPACE! PLANETS!

Another Pick:    A virus coloring book contest.

“At the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) we know that, like viruses, creativity is contagious. To help spread the fun, we have designed our very own colouring book! Illustrated and written by CVR scientists, we hope this book gives you a bit of welcome relief from the daily stresses of life, while inspiring you with interesting facts about viruses and the incredible research underway at our centre in Glasgow.

Created with the support of the Medical Research Council, we hope you enjoy learning about the tiny pathogens that never cease to amaze us.

To mark the MRC Festival of Medical Research (17 – 25th June), we are running a competition to allow 10 people to win a FREE hard copy of the book!”

Keep it coming with your own team entertaining science communication.

Best to you,

Neva from Buda

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