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TWiM 46 Letters

Jeff writes:

Hello TWIMers -  In TWIM 26  I heard the listener email asking if you would consider offering continuing education credit for your podcasts, and you understandably cited the work that would you need to do (such as writing learning objectives, tests etc) as a real barrier to that.  I was wondering if you would consider "contracting" that kind of work out to some of your listeners; being a teacher of a microbiology class at a community college, I spend a large amount of time coming up with learning objectives, tests etc  anyhow, and it would help me to generate fresh material for my students from your podcasts.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were others in your listening base who might feel the same.  This still would add work for you, so I understand if its a no-go.

In a separate vein: quite a while ago I was doing dishes and listening to a TWIM.  As I was using a sponge to wipe off the counter a ridiculous question popped into my head (as opposed to my toe, I guess): are there strains of bacteria that can provide a protective commensal role on environmental surfaces?  A counter top is nothing like a biological surface, as only the latter should have organic material to eat on it, but still, is there any evidence in any situation that something like this happens?  Please read  the following sentence with extra emphasis: I am not fishing for an excuse to get out of doing the dishes, and I regularly boil our kitchen sponges and use bleach to Pokies clean the counters.

Keep up the great work!

Velma writes:

Dear TWIM-team,

Greetings from a longtime listener and fan of all three TWI-podcasts. I'm a biotechnology Masters student at the University of Helsinki, Finland, but I earn my living as a part-time driver in the world's most northern metro. Your podcasts help me pass the dull hours at work so that I feel like I'm doing something to advance my studies as well.

I've been thinking of writing for quite a while. Now that I'm finally doing it, I have a rather general suggestion and a link. The suggestion is, I'd like to hear more about the archaea - maybe even an entire episode dedicated to them. They seem like such a mystery. At least at my home university, they're almost always just mentioned as an aside, while the bacteria get all the attention. The one time they were actually discussed on a course, I learned that they are not just extremophiles, but actually all around us, just like bacteria. This made the fact that there are no pathogenic archeae seem even more curious to me.

As for the link, it's for the Earth Microbiome Project: http://www.earthmicrobiome.org/

I just ran across it today, and don't remember this project being mentioned on TWIM before. I think the idea is awesome, not to mention really ambitious, maybe even overly so. What do you think, is creating even a rough map of the microbiome of our entire planet an attainable goal? And would it be a useful resource for research?

Thanks for the inspiring and informative podcasts,

Velma

 

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