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TWiV 161 Letters

Ayesha writes:

Honourable TWIVnesses!

I heard this series and thought you might dig it for listener pick of the week:

The series is in progress but interviews 1-4 are available on the BBC iplayer or for download as a podcast. Prof Al-Khalili is a physicist but you have science podcasting and science outreach in common with him.

The interview with Paul Nurse is a really interesting window on his work, mind, even personal life!

@neilfws via Twitter:

what do we think about this?

Raphael writes:

Hi, Dr. Racaniello.

Just would like to give you a heads up on an article i recently read with the link:

Gardasil (HPV-4) and the H1N1 vaccines giving a high risk of miscarriages. Will you be able to comment on this?

Thank you very much.

Matt writes:

My name is Matt Clarke, I'm 16 and I live in the UK. For the last two months, I have been subscribed to TWiV and enjoy listening to whats going on in the world of Virology when I'm not revising for my mocks.

I'm at a point where I'm deciding what my future career will be. Virology has proved very interesting and is a very vast career option with plenty of discoveries to be found. Even Dr Nathan Wolfe said in a TED talk said " If an intelligent extra-terrestrial was taxed with writing the encyclopedia of life on our planet, 27 out of 30 of these volumes would be devoted to bacteria and virus, with just a few of the volumes left for plants, fungus and animals, humans being a footnote".

Coming back to my question. As someone who is involved in Virology, could you give me any information about the field? For example, what is the salary like?, What would a working day consist of? and how would you go through it? This information will help me make a choice for my future.

Please get back to me as soon as possible as I'm very interested. I'll still be listening to the podcast every week to hear the latest news.

Yours Faithfully,

Ann writes:

Dear TWIV community,

I wanted to make a contribution regarding Episode #145. You read an e-mail from Wendy at University of Iowa regarding the history of cloning technologies. She referenced the 1970s work at the NIH and scientists self-imposed (or externally imposed) moratorium on the work until the risks could be investigated. As you mentioned there was also a moratorium on cloning work in Cambridge, MA. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this treasure - a (black and white) video recording of the Cambridge City Council hearing on the risks of recombinant DNA work, including city council members, scientists from MIT and Harvard, and a representative from the NIH, and Cambridge citizens. The MIT Library has an edited copy of this video (30min total), including some narration, available on their website as part of one of their 150th anniversary projects. Please post this link for others who may be interested. It is fascinating to me that one scientists tries to defend the ongoing research as very unlikely to be hazardous, while another scientist points out that this new and powerful technology has a huge potential - to help but also to harm, still poorly understood. I think it is important for scientists to be able to talk, with each other and with the public, about the implications of their work - scientific and moral.

I am glad to hear you discuss not only the hot new papers, but also the fascinating investigations from the past that got us where we are today. I think this is wonderfully enriching, for scientists to understand our heritage, so to speak.

Thanks for all your great work!


Virology Graduate student, Harvard University

P.S. It was a pleasure to meet you, Vincent, when you visited our department retreat in September!

" The film Hypothetical Risk, The Cambridge City Council's hearings on DNA Experimentation in Cambridge was recorded in June 1976 at City Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mayor Alfred Vellucci and city councillors Saundra Graham and David Clem are among those to question a panel of scientists including Mark Ptashne (Harvard professor of biochemistry and molecular biology), Daniel Branton (chairman, Harvard Safety Committee), Maxine Singer (National Institute of Health biochemist), Ruth Hubbard (Harvard professor of biology) and Jonathan King (MIT associate professor of biology). Produced by the MIT Oral History Program for the Recombinant DNA History Project in 1978."


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