Mark writes:

Hi TWiVers,

No weather. Just a simple Haiku for you. 

Shares science knowledge for free
Help him with some funds

Enjoy Your Summer.


Volker writes:

Dear Twix listeners and fans, 

This is a letter to you. There must be many of us, enjoying the science and banter that Vincent and the team bring to us at least once a week. But if you look at Patreon, only 200 of us have already decided to say thank you by giving a small amount each month. 

Are you one of those many listeners who really like TWIX? Are you fortunate enough that you can easily afford a cup of coffee? Maybe you already considered becoming a Patreon? Then please, press pause right now and do it. It is really easy. It will not reduce the number of coffees you will drink. It will make a real difference to the TWIX team! Just imagine if Vincent and the others would only consider doing the podcasts but not actually do them. 

Thank you! 

Greetings from climate change hot Germany, 


Jimmy writes:

Here is an Update on measles.

Rich writes:


Many thanks for another thought provoking episode.

The discussion on Hep D reminded me of the distinction between viroids and virusoids. I think(!) that Hep D is similar to a virusoid as it is encapsulated by a helper virus, and viroids are not (coming back to the plasmid discussion in an earlier TWIV), but would appreciate your thoughts, and also whether these are recognised terms. (I also remember trying to clarify the difference in a virology textbook and could not find these terms referred to, so it may be worth covering these in the next edition of Principles of Virology if this is not already covered). Thanks again.


Anandi writes:

Hi Vincent!

My name is Anandi  and I have been an enthusiastic listener ofTWIV since I started my Master’s program at the National Institute of Virology in India and then continued to do a PhD in adenovirology at Umeå University (Sweden) under Niklas Arnberg’s supervision.

It is so exciting that you will be recording a podcast at our annualVirology symposium in Smögen! I recently started a Postdoc in Gothenburg in cell biology and will miss the meeting at Smögen this year, which is so so so unfortunate but still exciting nevertheless!

Looking forward to that episode!

Best wishes from a grey and rainy Gothenburg,


Anthony writes:

Death as a problem for biology

In one of the TWiVs, you wondered why Biology (Evolution) never solved the problem of death.  For Biology, death isn’t a problem. If someone’s 30 years old and has progeny that can reproduce — as far as Evolution is concerned — there’s no need for them to be around any more.  If someone’s 30 years old and has no children, there never was a reason for them to be around at all.

Since life is a vehicle for the transportation of information through time, the question isn’t why organisms die after reproducing.  The problem for investigation is why individuals persist after that at all. My speculation is that in an inverse of altruism, if species live in groups, and learning is important to all, there will be a collective advantage to maintain those with experience.  Even in species not in groups, at a quick glance learning is associated with longevity. Mice are instinct driven and have a lifespan measured in months. Bats learn and live for years.

And the information generating life is just a collection of typos.  We can hope that it’s more than that, believe that it’s something else, but we can’t think that there’s meaning.


# # #

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


Justin writes:

If this does decrease type1 diabetes, I wonder what the antivaxx logic will be to deny it

Martin writes:

Dear professors

Having just attended the 2019 annual Gold Medal Lecture for the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) this evening, I felt I had to write to you to suggest a future guest to meet online or in person when she is next in the USA or you, Vincent, are over in Europe. Her name is Professor Reidun Twarock from the University of York, England. Here is the abstract  of her lecture given tonight at the Royal Society, London as an indicator of how interesting her subjects, geometry and symmetry are, in trying to understand how viruses build their proteins and how she is working with scientists (some of whom reside and work in the USA) to help combat viral disease.

“IMA Gold Medal Lecture 2019 – Geometry as a weapon in the fight against viral disease to be given by Professor Reidun Twarock (University of York), winner of the 2018 IMA Gold Medal.

Abstract: The protein containers encapsulating the genetic material of viruses are remarkable examples of icosahedral symmetry in biology. Professor Twarock will demonstrate how techniques from group, graph and tiling theory have enabled her and her team to solve long-standing puzzles regarding the structures and assembly of these viral Trojan horses.  In particular, the concept of Hamiltonian paths has been instrumental in the discovery of an assembly mechanism that occurs in many viral families, such as the Picornaviruses that include the common cold virus. Using Gillespie models of viral evolution in the context of a viral infection, Professor Twarock will demonstrate how these insights into virus structure open up novel opportunities for anti-viral therapy.  She will also show how her recent classification of virus structure based on Kepler’s Archimedean lattices has revealed a design principle for icosahedral architectures, that solves open problems in structural virology and suggests new avenues in our fight against viral disease.

There will be an opportunity after the lecture to experience the models of viral geometry ‘in action’ in a virtual reality environment.”

Having told her about TWiV, she would be only too pleased to communicate with you to see if an episode might be put together to further the education of us all in your subject and how mathematicians do get involved in combatting the cold virus, for example. (Those 3-D AR headset demonstrations, mentioned above, were really good, letting you appear to be inside a capsid, looking out.)

Here is her email address for getting in touch with her if you would like to discuss things further…

Very best wishes to you all. 

Martin Keats

TWiV Patreon Contributor

Neeraj writes:

Dear Dr. Racaniello,

   First and foremost, heartiest congratulations on a very well-deserved Education award at ASM. I think everyone on the TWiX podcasts would agree that without your passion and commitment, this enterprise wouldn’t have grown so big, popular and resourceful. Too bad I missed the event as I was at the ASM the previous day (but did have fun engaging in a fireside chat with Dr Swanson of TWiM).

Next, I wanted to applaud the terrific interview on polio with Dr Oshinsky. I really enjoyed the exchange and I think interviews like these should become more mainstream and part of our everyday dialogue on the importance and need of getting our kids vaccinated. What’s happening with measles (especially in states like Texas) is horrible, and stories / discussion like these really inform the common person about the importance and necessity of vaccines, even when the disease burden currently might well be under control. Coming from India, I can certainly vouch for how debilitating polio can be if left unvaccinated against. Sometimes I wonder whether maybe the reason why anti-vaxxers have such a stranglehold on public perception is because they or their near / dear ones have never witnessed the lifelong disabilities that these serious parasitic infections can cause. It’s sad that kids get put in harm’s way even when we have one of the best human creations to counter it. Thus, I continue to believe that the only way to get over this is by educating and informing the public about the great good vaccines do and will continue to do so. If you would not leave your kid in a car seat without straps or drive without a seat belt yourself, there is absolutely no good reason to not vaccinate and protect since they are incredibly safe and effective. Therefore, thanks for your diligence and efforts in bringing these merits to the common front, especially in a language that is easy to understand and interpret. Please continue the great effort and here’s to many more wonderful years of podcasting and educating.




Neeraj Kapoor, Ph.D.Senior Scientist (Research), SutroVax, Inc.

Anthony writes:

Global water pathogen project

I see this as important for 2 reasons:

1) The world is running out of fresh water.  If the choice is dying of thirst or drinking contaminated water, there is no choice.

2) Ewald’s hypothesis is that water borne pathogens will tend to increase in virulence.