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TWiP 59 letters

Allan writes:

You have the best podcast on the web, hands down. I use your TWiP episodes in both my undergraduate and graduate classes.

I've recently seen a family in Hawaii with recurrent pathogenic Blastocystis hominis and Dientamoeba fragilis and I'm suspicious if they are getting it from close association with feral pigs. I see a little published on the possibility from Italy, but do you know how prevalent it is in pigs and particularly, does D. fragilis even have a transmissible cyst stage? Are both of these parasites considered emerging pathogenic diseases?

Any suggestions on setting up an investigation to answer these questions?

Best regards,

Allan Robbins, DIH, MPH
University of the Nations-Global Health

Andrew writes:

Hi there,

My name is Andy- I was wondering if you may be able to provide me some feedback on something I'm developing. I'll try to make it explicit as possible. First off, I was wondering how difficult it is to engineer a Virus's Ligands to match up with a desired Host Cells surface receptor. The relevance behind my first question is, would it be possible to engineer a virus that can attach to T. gondii surface receptors and ultimately infect the parasite? Of course there are lots of things to consider, but I'm really only curious of the concept itself. I haven't found any literature that specifically applies to my question, so I've turn to you! Any thoughts? If engineering is possible, Viable infection would be the first step and then developing an idea on how to kill the parasite would be the following (in my amateur perspective at least).

Karl writes:

Sent from my iPhone hi you guys I am Karl from Northern Ireland :) . I would like to thank you for all the weird and wonderful information about parasites viruses and bacteria and general information discussed in you topics. It has been a pleasure writing about it so I don't forget it which helps keep me informed and can read over to remind myself of all the parasites as there are so many. I am a chef in the food industry and reminds me to be careful when handling raw food products I always were latex gloves now to keep me protected and think that more people in the catering industry should be put through a parasite awareness course for themselves and others. I say this because of my own experience of having a parasite in my body which thankfully was taken care of . :)). I am now a vegetarian and have never felt better. I have evolved at last haha. It's like the Adam and Eve story and the serpent and to choose what to eat and knowing what is good for us and what is bad for us. The ancients spoke and drew of the ouroborus now I understand what it all means. We are part of the food chain not at the top . So makes me think what is are purpose to be food for parasites so the can live and survive amount us secretly . Makes me wonder if mars has water ??,,,is there forms of parasites that may exist there also . Anyway don't want to write a book about it for use to read just taught of saying thanks again and look forward to continuing to listen to the both of your podcast and many more Interesting conversations as not many people want to talk about parasites :((. Xox

Stephen writes:

Dickson and Vincent,

By way of an introduction, I am a retired IT professional who took an undergraduate degree in biology many many years ago. TWIP, TWIV and TWIM are wonderful listening and I particularity enjoy the informal format of their broadcast.

Dickson, I am a person with Celiac, and I cannot help but wonder if Celiac evolved and survived because it might have had a survival
advantage for ridding the body of parasites which lodge in the small intestine and are hidden from the immune system. Ongoing regular
treatment by gluten would not be great for health and longevity but perhaps symptomatic or seasonal treatment by gluten containing grains
would confer some added benefit for primitive man. Could you please speculate on this possibility?

Thanks and keep up the great shows. I always look forward to listening to them on my not-an-ipod during my daily dog walk.


Dorotha writes:

Dear Vincent and Dickson,

I am a huge fan of your show and I really appreciate the work that you do to make science more approachable. I especially like TWiP, because I think that parasitology is very underappreciated, not because it's any less exciting than other disciplines but possibly because of the 'yuck' reaction many people have when hearing the word 'parasite'. Your show is just another proof that parasitology can be interesting in a non-horrid way.

I guess you can apply Terence words "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto" (I am sure Dickson will enjoy translating it, as I noticed he's really into latin) even to parasites.

I have a question for you, that came to my mind when eating my garden-grown plums, which turned out to be more organic than I expected, with some worms enjoying their taste probably as much as I do: Are there any parasites that use worms (or in general insects) as vectors to get into their host via oral route?

Thanks for the great show!


Andrew writes:

You've probably already been notified on this, but the Coriolis effect has nothing to do with the way water spirals out a drain. On a body of water the size of a sink or even the Oculus the Coriolis effect is far too small to have a significant effect. The direction that water swirls in the toilet is determined by the shape of the water jets around the rim of the toilet.

Greg writes:

Dear TWiP Hosts,

Concerning your discussion near the beginning of TWiP #57, as a youngster I was fortunate to witness a demonstration of the Coriolis effect right at the equator (in Kenya). My family and I watched a man drain water out of a plastic bowl with a hole at the bottom. A few meters north of the equator, a matchstick floating in the water spun clockwise. Literally a few meters to the south, the experiment was repeated and it spun the other way. To my amazement, directly at the equator, the water drained straight out without any rotation!

Only much later, as a student of physics, did I learn that we had been deceived. The apparent acceleration caused by the Coriolis effect is of the order of the velocity of a moving object times the angular velocity of the Earth. Even if we generously give the draining water a velocity of a meter per second, this gives an acceleration that is a hundred thousand times smaller that the acceleration due to gravity. So other effects will easily determine which way water drains out of a bowl (or a toilet bowl for that matter). I speculate that the man doing the demonstrations at the "equator" would shake the bowl slightly, perhaps even unconsciously, to get the desired outcome.

The Coriolis force has a noticeable effect in phenomena occurring over longer timescales, accumulating the effect of the very small acceleration, such as weather patterns or the precession of a Foucault pendulum, or in phenomena with very large velocities, such as the trajectories of missiles.

I hope you will excuse this digression into the world of classical mechanics, and its applications to detecting fraud in the tourism industry.

Keep up the excellent work!


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