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TWiV 87 Letters

James writes:

Dear TWIV,

I've really enjoyed hearing about the paths you and your guests took to enter the fields of virology and parasitology.

I was wondering if Dr. Dove could talk for a few minutes about how and why he decided to transition into science journalism. Does he have any advice for PhD students who are considering making the switch? And how bad is the job market considering all the cuts media companies are making as of late?

Many thanks,

James in Japan

Marcie writes:

Dear Vincent, Dick, and colleagues,

I love both your shows and would strongly encourage you to increase the frequency of TWIP if possible!

I was volunteering in my son's second grade classroom this morning reading a book about the human body with a student who needs extra practice reading. This student has struggled to be engaged by things he reads but this morning he was full of questions and this is why I am writing to you. Two pages of this short book were about blood and germs and there was a photo of some red blood cells next to a photo of some "germs" that I assume were rod shaped bacteria. These photos spawned a lengthy session where the student asked many questions about germs including, do they move?, how do they move?, how do they get inside our bodies?, what shapes do they have?, and a host of others. I drew him some examples of different shapes (paramecium, amoeba, ebola), and told him that paramecia swam using little hair-like things (I could not think of the word cilia at the time) and amoeba moved by oozing little feet-like things forward and then oozing the rest of itself into that "foot-like" projection. We also discussed more passive forms of movement like being blown on the wind, or being forcefully pushed by air as in coughs or sneezes. The student really wanted to know whether any germs had hair-like projections that the could deploy to facilitate being carried by air/wind like dandelion seeds. I told him that I was not aware of any but that I knew some very smart scientists who knew a lot about microbes and I would ask. So, are there any microbes (or other parasitic things) that can deploy hair-like projections to help them to travel?

Are there any books with good photos of microbes that you could recommend for early-elementary kids? I am hoping for a book with a picture of a microbe that simply says something like, "Here is a picture of the bacteria X. X is helpful/harmful to animals because it does Y and Z. X moves by (flagellum) and is passed from person to person by (touch). More complicated explanations would also be fine as I could translate them into simpler words, but something he could read himself would be ideal.

Thank you for your help!


Jason writes:

Hi Guys,

I thought you might like this article. You have to love the headline anyway. I have heard that malware/viruses could potentially be transmitted to pacemakers before, but it looks like Gasson has a proof of concept.


Keep up the good work,

Kind regards,



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