Jane Flint writes:


With respect to schematic subway maps (TWiV 450), goes back to 1930’s in London.

Great discussion with Ben,


Sasha Trubetskoy writes:

Hi guys, thanks for sharing my Roman subway map.

I think the name you’re looking for is Harry Beck, designer of the London Underground map. He was actually an electrical engineer by training, and came up with the idea of representing a transit system as if it were an electrical circuit. In 1932 he published an early version of the now-ubiquitous map, which was immediately rejected by the London Underground’s Publicity Department. However, due to Beck’s persistence, a small print run was allowed and the map was released at a few select stations. Riders loved the simple design and demanded more–the Publicity Department conceded, and ordered 700,000 copies. Other cities would copy Beck’s idea, and the rest is history.

Johnye writes:

Learned Scientists.

A couple of months ago I discovered Jennife Khan’s TED talk on CRISPR gene drives. During the conversation around 00:23:23 brought to mind the activity of the a gene drive. A some point, when appropriate and pertinent, could the group discuss CRISPR gene drive as a tool for use in maybe vaccine production or other uses in research?

Jennifer Khan’s talk was most engaging.


Thanks from 27 C, fairly sunny, but officially partly cloudy, Boston.


Vr: check out TWiP 100 where we talked about a cas9 mediated driver gene in mosquitoes https://www.microbe.tv/twip/twip-100/

Wiki on gene drive

Shallee writes:

Dear TWIVumvirate;

Humid and warm in New Hampshire. 26 deg C (78 F).

Thank you so much for TWIV 449 and 450 about RNAi. I am hard-pressed to keep up with all these ‘new-fangled’ RNAs. Dr. tenOever talks fast, but his parenthetical explanations were excellent. At one point, I wanted one of Rich Condit’s interruptions to slow down and recap, but I guess he was away!

I also wanted to thank Prof. Young for the letter about predatory publishing.  I received an invitation to write a book chapter this summer and I considered paying the page costs out of my faculty development funds or my pocket because it was about past research that is no longer grant-funded. One of the editors listed was someone I knew and respected and Wisconsin-Madison’s icon was on their webpage! Fortunately, I googled the book series before I accepted the invitation or started writing. I found a blogger that had blogged about it being a bit of a scam.

But, I still wasn’t sure that I made the correct choice.  Even if it was a minimal impact publication, I figured my promotion committee might not care. So, it was a great service for Prof. Young to write.

There is a list of predatory publishers no longer quite current, but amazingly extensive: http://beallslist.weebly.com/

Thank you again for serving so many different constituencies from undergrads up to older scientists trying to keep up with new findings!

Shallee Page (a male FWIW)


Shallee T. Page

Assoc. Prof. of Chemistry

Franklin Pierce U.

Jess writes:

Hiya TWiV Team!

It’s a balmy 26C with 83% humidity and 16kmh winds at 7pm in Rhode Island.

I just wanted to express how excited I was to hear from Ben tenOever in episode 450.  While I have meant to read more of his publications and listen to past TWiV appearance(s?), I will admit I was only first introduced to his work via his ABSA International conference presentation last year in Grapevine, TX.  

His talk was one that I remember distinctly because it instilled so much excitement and curiosity in me regarding engineering suicidal viruses in the lab. On several occasions I scanned the audience to possibly connect with another soul who was as wowed as I was by the research so that we could silently agree that his work was “SO COOL.” Alas, I did not find my nerdy soul sister or brother in the moment but it did not take away from the experience.

No matter how much I learn about molecular biology, genetic engineering, virology etc. I’m constantly impressed by what we know and by what we don’t know!

It was also nice to have my worlds collide between Dr. tenOever as a TWiV fan and guest AND as a participant at the ABSA conference where biosafety experts from around the world gather annually 🙂

Speaking of the ABSA conference, the year before I met Dr. Ian Crozier who is an MD and ebola survivor who gave an amazing and compassionate presentation regarding the West African outbreak and the subsequent medical community/volunteer response.  He’s a phenomenal speaker and would probably be a great guest for the show someday if you could get him.

In any event, kudos as always for presenting really cool science.

Take Care,


Steve writes:


Hi Vincent et al,

Just came across this case of a virus infecting a fungus, and enabling–for now–survival of European Chestnut, after‎ the fungus made its way to the US and wiped out most of the American Chestnuts, before finding its way to Europe and meeting the virus.

(If I’ve read it right, that is!)

Sounds very much a ‘TWiV story’.

All the best,




Beautiful blue sky morning getting under way here.

Average Jane writes:

Dear twiv scientists, professors & science communicators: you are, I suspect, the sort of experts to address a question like this.

Let’s say you are an average Jane, average education, who lives in a world of fake news.

You want to use critical thinking, especially on issues of science that directly affect you and your family.

What steps can you take to think critically when you see opposing views like the example below?

it could be any example, I just chose this for illustration.


Do We Dare To Eat Lectins?





Dr. Gundry: Lectins are the Root Cause of Inflammation and Disease



best regards,

average Jane


Johannes writes:

Dear Prof. Racaniello, dear hosts of TWiV,

I am  a relative regular listener and enjoy your discussions, may it be on virology or on more general science related topics.

Even the political ones.

Doing my PhD in molecular toxicology, I enjoy following you to broaden my scientific horizon.

Viruses are to me just complex nanoparticles, naturally occurring and sometimes of the kind that make you sick.

In the  episode ‘TWiV 449: The sound of non-silencing’ you discussed the problem of predatory journals,

Going through the  literature my B.Sc. intern used, I recognized that educating young scientist is an important thing to fight off predatory journals.

I spend quite a lot of time myself tracking down some of the cited literature of which I didn’t know the publisher.

While doing that, I realized it is not easy for a scientist in training to differentiate an open-source journal propagating open access for the sake of society from a predatory journal.

What I found on my search, and what I would like to share with you is a neat website:


It is a website providing a process called Think. Check. Submit., basically a check list containing useful tips and tricks helping to identify predatory journals.

Since you are all experienced members of the scientific community, I would like to hear your opinion on this website and also how to educate scientists in training to watch out for predatory journals.

I assume we as a scientific  community will never be capable of fully preventing this parasitic form of publishing.

But it is our duty to give the predatory journals a hard time to be successful.

Best regards,


P.s.: Please revive Urban Agriculture podcast! I enjoyed it a lot!

Johannes P. Schimming | PhD Student | Division of Toxicology | Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) | Leiden University

Steve writes:


Hi Vincent and team,

As an environmentalist/conservationist and lifetime science enthusiast, I find I am all too often faced with impossible choices like the one presented by this position. For most of my friends it is an easy choice: more and more research is showing that even creatures once thought to be non-sentient are showing surprising empathy and care for one another; monkeys are right at the top of the ‘almost human scale’; experimenting on them is torture without any doubt. I, certainly could not do it, even for mice (I noted that even Vincent seemed to balk on realising recently, that a mouse had been pinned down alive for four days whilst a cell of its leg was observed under a microscope.).

Do I sign: or not?


Steve Hawkins





Anthony writes:


Retraction Watch (RW): Rigor Mortis begins with the story of the 2012 Nature paper by C. Glenn Begley and Lee Ellis that is now famous for sounding the alarm about reproducibility in basic cancer research. But as you document, this is not a problem that began in 2012. When did scientists first start realizing there was a problem?



# # #

I’ve just started to read this with great interest.   

The book does have what might be considered an unflattering comment concerning Stuart Firestein.


Neil writes:

These Smart Girls Are Here To Debunk Anti-Vaxxer Nonsense


John writes:

Hi Vincent, Dickson, Alan, Rich, and Kathy ☯,

I offer a listener pick of John Sever’s reddit “ask me anything” about the Rotary Club and polio eradication…


Thanks and regards,

John in Limerick

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