Simon writes:

Team TWIV,

Second cool day in San Jose California nice break from the heat.

Your discussion on the press and being misquoted was interesting.

I’m a product manager in the tech sector and wanted to shed some light as we go through this often. 

So the first thing is we get special media training which covers a lot of things including remembering the press is not your friend, how to stick to the topic, don’t show off as you will slip-  things you didn’t want to say etc etc. We even get refresher training. It occurs to me that many universities have media departments so scientists could easily get in-house training.

Another thing we know is that engineers can’t keep secrets. So many of our leaks happen (including to competitors but also the press analysts etc.) not by the people that are supposed to talk externally but by engineers. Worth noting is that there’s a type of media that acts less reputably, deliberately targeting people to try to get them saying things they shouldn’t.

These days of course sometimes you get training on social media as well. 

On a separate point: as product managers we are taught to think about the audience. As you yourselves have commented even within science language sentences and words get used in different ways with different meanings. As such it’s critically important to check the person correctly understood what you said. Not just that they say they did. Read back is essential. We often review articles written for us before they go to print. 

Anyway, I start to think every degree in science needs to have a module on communication with the public and definitely postgrads need support in this space. We cannot expect people to get these skills without training.

Charles writes:

Hello TWiVers;

A really nice day in Chapel Hill, low 70’s with some sun.

If you thought moving away from full time coronavirus coverage would get rid of me, well you were wrong.  I hope the same is true for most of your newbie listeners.  I really do enjoy your long form podcast, including the weather and the various times TWiV becomes TWiG or some other topic.

OK, to my question.  Taking what I think I learned from TWiV 754 and combining that with a few other TWiVs and other sources, do you think we could make an effective mRNA vaccine for Dengue fever?  If experiments like those talked about on TWiV 754 could be done on Dengue fever viruses to find the epitopes that cause antibody-dependent disease enhancement, could mRNA be designed to instruct cells to build modified virus proteins that are missing those epitopes?

Again thanks for the COVID-19 coverage and a nice introduction to other viruses,


Gary writes:

Hello TWIV Scientists,

I was amused in I believe episodes 750 and 754 at your attempts to define cows, cattle and in general, some animal terminology. Jens was exactly right in his description of agricultural terms, although the term Auroch is probably only used by scholars involved with taxonomy

Having spent most of my life in animal agriculture, I thought I would provide you with a “cheat sheet” should you delve into it again. These terms are mostly what is used in the United States, as too many terms change as you go abroad (i.e. Piggery vs Hog Farm).

This list is not all inclusive and these terms are not really set in stone and are dependent on industry, colloquialism, region and time. Some of the ones I mentioned may already have fallen out of general use. However, the attachment is just to help you get by if referring to animal agriculture on TWIV in the future. By using them you will come across as even more brilliant than you already are!

I have viewed and learned from every episode the past 17 months. Thank you for providing factual science based information. Continue the excellent work.


Palmer Lake, Colorado

(By the way, I became a patron quite some time ago. Still waiting for the mug.)



• Beef cattle:  Cattle raised for human consumption.  
• Bull:  An intact (not castrated) adult male.  
• Cow:  An adult female that has had a calf.  (That is not always accurate.  A farmer might say”go check on the cows” when referring to a herd with cows, heifers and steers.  Also, “Cowboys” do not just deal with females.) 
• Dairy Cow:  A female specifically for milk production.  Almost always Holsteins.  A  productive life of about 3 years.
• Heifer:  A young female before she has had a calf of her own and is under three years of age.  
• Calves:  Young cattle of both sexes until they are weaned.
• Steer:  A castrated male.   
• Ox:  A castrated male (occasionally a female) kept for draft purposes. (plural oxen)
• Gomer bull:  A vasectomized male used to find cows in heat in a herd.


• Swine:  The species as a whole.  
• Pig:  An animal of any gender or age.  
• Hog:  Same as pig, but usually over about 120 pounds.
• Boar:  An intact male pig of breeding age.
• Sow:  A breeding female after first or second litter
• Gilt:  A young female not yet mated, or not yet farrowed, or after only one litter.
• Piglet:  An unweaned young pig.
• Weaner, a young pig recently separated from the sow
• Shoat:  A young pig up to about 100 pounds.  Not as common now.  
• Barrow:  A male pig castrated before puberty raised human consumption.

Sheep and Goats:


• Sheep:  All animals of the species over one year of age. They have usually produced offspring. 
• Lambs: Animals of either sex that are less than one year of age. 
• Ewe:  A female sheep.  
• Ram:  A male sheep.   
• Wether:  A castrated male sheep.  (Bellwether – sheep that leads the herd often wearing a bell)
• Yearling:  An animal 1 – 2 years of age, may or may not have produced offspring 


• Teaser :  A vasectomised ram or buck.  May be run with females to bring into heat.
• Buck or Billy:  An uncastrated male goat over 12 months of age.
• Doe or Nanny:  A mature female goat over 12 months of age.
• Buckling:  A young male goat less than a year old.
• Doeling:  A young female goat less than a year old.
• Kid:  A baby goat of either sex.
• Wether:  A castrated male goat or sheep.



• Broiler, Fryers, Roasters:  Chickens for meat differentiated by age and weight.
• Chick:  A newly hatched or a very young chicken of either sex.
• Cock or Rooster:  A mature male chicken.   
• Pullet:  A female chicken less than20- 22 weeks of age that will lay eggs.
• Cockerel:  An imature male chicken.  
• Hen:  A female chicken after she starts laying eggs.
• Stewing chicken/Spent hens:  Usually laying hens that have passed their prime. 


• Fryers, Roasters:  Young turkeys for meat differentiated by age and weight.
• Hen:  A mature female turkey.  
• Tom:  A mature male turkey.
• Poult:  A young domestic turkey.
• Jake:   A young male turkey.  
• Jenny:  A young female turkey. 


• Duck:  Can refer to either sex of the family or a female duck.  
• Drake: A mature male duck.
• Hen: is A mature female duck.
• Ducklings: Baby ducks of either sex.


• Gander:  A male goose over 1 year of age. 
• Goose:  Singular of geese or a female goose.
• Gosling:  A young goose up until feathers have replaced all of their down.



• Colt:  A male horse under 3 years of age.
• Filly:  A female horse under 3 years of age.
• Foal:  A young equine under 1 year of age.
• Gelding:  A castrated male horse.
• Mare:  A female horse after her 3rd birthday.
• Stallion:  An intact male horse.
• Stud:  Stallion that is used for breeding.  
• Sire: Stallion that has fathered a foal. 

Donkey and Mules

• Donkey:  Common name for a member of the ass family.
• Jack, Jackass:  Intact male of the ass family.
• Jenny:  A female of the ass family.
• Mule:  Hybrid cross from breeding a Jack (Donkey) to a Mare (Horse).
• Hinny:  Hybrid cross from breeding a Stallion (Horse) to a Jenny (Donkey).

Charles writes:

I have no idea if you watch Jeopardy!.  If you do not, you may want to watch today’s (05/25/2021) Tournament Of Champions show.  A question that had a significant impact on the game would have been answered by most TWiV listeners.  

Category: “Medical Milestones”, The Daily Double answer was: “File under ‘S’ in the 1950’s these 2 microbiologists each developed a polio vaccine.”  “Medical Milestones”.  The contestant could only name Salk.



Charles writes:

Hello TWiVers;

Just a light hearted email from sunny and warm North Carolina.  91F/33C in Chapel Hill.  Should be cooler this weekend, but alas I will be visiting NJ where it looks like I am in for some rain.  Who knows, maybe I will get a great hot dog at Max’s in Long Branch and just watch it rain at the shore.

During TWiV 759, there was talk of bubbles, cults, manual transmissions, deprogramming, schizophrenia and apophenia.  So I thought because my last name is German and apophenia comes from the German word Apophänie and the term was coined in 1958, my birth year, who better to put it all together with meaningful connections than me.

So here goes.  A cult is just a bubble of people that share a common crazy idea.  The people may not be crazy overall, in fact most would not stand out in a crowd.  Professor Rosenfeld let the world know that Professor Racaniello belongs to the cult of three-pedal driving.  I was a proud member of the same cult for 10 straight cars.  I thought those outside of my bubble (from inside a cult, it always looks like a bubble) were nuts.  They spent more money, got less performance and used more gasoline than I did.  An added bonus was I was more engaged when driving.  Another advantage, in recent years a manual transmission has made a car almost theft proof.  All good things.  But times change.  The new automatic transmissions are much better.  They still cost more and are not as engaging, but they get better MPG and better 0-60 times, and the resale value is much better.

So how do you deprogram a member of the three-pedal driving cult?  Get them to drive an electric car.  An EV is the opposite of a stick shift car.  You want to accelerate, you just press on the accelerator and the car just goes faster.  No shifting by the driver or the car (one exception, the Porsche has a two speed transmission).  No muss, no fuss, just smooth acceleration from an EV.

If Professor Racaniello is too deep into the cult to be deprogrammed, he may want to check out National Stick Shift Day, July 16:

Thanks for the shows,


Kirt writes:

Hi Vince et al.

Do we know if seasonal flu existed before 1918?

I’ve been been wondering about this for a long time and i’ve not come across a satisfying answer.

There might be a paper out there that addresses this, but i haven’t been able to find it.

How could we investigate this? is it even possible to know?

I expect an RNA virus would be hard to recover from exhumed remains?

And death records couldn’t distinguish influenza from coronavirus or others?



Greg writes:


Listening to Q&A with A&V and hearing Amy complain about those weighing in on the lab leak theory reminded me of this classic Stewart Lee bit:

“A lot of people think the Loch Ness Monster doesn’t exist, don’t they. Now, I don’t know anything about zoology, biology, geology, geography, marine biology, cryptozoology, evolutionary theory, evolutionary biology, meteorology, limnology, history, herpetology, paleontology or archaeology, but I think….(long pause)…  what if a dinosaur had got in the lake…”

I’ve been listening to TWiV since 15 March 2020, starting with the amazing TWIV 591 episode with Ralph Baric that I listened to as I drove my daughter home from college when campus closed, so it’s really been the soundtrack to the pandemic for me.  I’m only a chemistry PhD and a fake one at that (a theorist), so I find the discussion incredibly valuable.  The questions you ask when discussing papers — drink when Vincent says “plaque assay!” — are, to me, just as valuable, if not more so, than the content of the papers themselves.  This podcast makes its audience not only better informed but better consumers of information.  Bravo.