TWiV 123: Contaminated prostates, absolute truth, and bleached worms

42Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, and Rich Condit

On episode #123 of the podcast This Week in Virology, Vincent, Alan, and Rich talk about XMRV integration sites in prostate tumor DNA, the decline effect and scientific method, and the first virus of Caenorhabditis nematodes.

Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV #123 (67 MB .mp3, 93 minutes).

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Links for this episode:

Weekly Science Picks

Rich – Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute)
Alan – Hi-definition microscopy movies in 3D
Vincent – Stan Maloy interview with Beatrice Hahn on the origins of HIV and malaria

Send your virology questions and comments (email or mp3 file) to twiv@microbe.tv, or call them in to 908-312-0760. You can also post articles that you would like us to discuss at microbeworld.org and tag them with twiv.

Replicability of scientific results

Excellent description by Jonah Lehrer in “The Truth Wears Off” (The New Yorker) on the importance of confirming experimental findings in different laboratories:

Before the effectiveness of a drug can be confirmed, it must be tested and tested again. Different scientists in different labs need to repeat the protocols and publish their results. The test of replicability, as it’s known, is the foundation of modern research. Replicability is how the community enforces itself. It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity. Most of the time, scientists know what results they want, and that can influence the results they get. The premise of replicability is that the scientific community can correct for these flaws.

Mr. Lehrer’s article is about drug effectiveness, but his words apply equally to other types of science, including virology.