This podcast might not actually kill you, but it covers so many things that can. Each episode tackles a different disease, from its history, to its biology, and finally, how scared you need to be. Ecologists and epidemiologists Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke make infectious diseases acceptable fodder for dinner party conversation and provide the perfect cocktail recipe to match.
Ep 102 Arsenic: Paris Green with Envy
“The king of poisons,” “the poison of kings,” “inheritance powder.” As its various nicknames suggest, arsenic’s notoriety largely stems from its use as a murder weapon. But as we explore in this episode, the world of arsenic is much, much bigger than just as a plot device in an Agatha Christie novel, and it remains one of the most important environmental contaminants today. But how exactly does arsenic affect your body? When did people first start to use arsenic and for what purposes? Where does it have the most impact currently? And, of course, why was it so popular as a murder weapon? Tune in to hear the answers to these and many, many more questions about one of the most notorious poisons out there.
Wondery Presents: Fed Up
When Emily Gellis hears rumors of people suffering horrible side effects from a trendy diet she springs into action. Armed with over a hundred thousand Instagram followers, Emily launches a social media crusade to expose F-Factor and its founder, Tanya Zuckerbrot. It’s the start of a feud that will attract trolls, lawyers, and, eventually, national media all because of fiber. From Wondery, this is a story about wealth, wellness, and influence hosted by Casey Wilson.
Listen to Fed Up: wondery.fm/TPWKY_FEDUP
Ep 101 Immortality: This Podcast Won't Kill You
For what was originally going to be our 100th regular season episode, we wanted to turn the vaguely threatening title of our podcast on its head by exploring a topic that’s not about something that can kill you but rather the hows and whys of staying alive, forever. That’s right, this week we’re taking on the immense and amorphous concept of immortality, viewed primarily through the lens of biology. Why don’t humans or any other organisms live forever, evolutionarily speaking? What can the long search for an elixir of life tell us about our future prospects of life without end? How close has current technology brought us to achieving immortality in even the remotest sense of the word? This may not be your typical TPWKY episode, but we promise laughter, trivia, and existential contemplation about the meaning of life, so you’re not gonna want to miss it.
Ep 100 Monkeypox: Here we go again?
A little over two years into a pandemic, the last thing you probably want to see is headlines announcing yet another disease spreading across the globe. And yet, here we are. Beginning in May 2022, an increasing number of cases of monkeypox have been reported in many countries around the world, both in places where the monkeypox virus is known to occur as well as places where it had previously never been observed. And although the monkeypox virus itself is not new, some of the ways it is acting during this outbreak are. In this episode, we take you through what we knew about monkeypox before this outbreak began, first by exploring the biology of this poxvirus and how it makes you sick before walking through the history of its discovery and past epidemics. Then we shift our focus to the ongoing outbreak: What is different about the patterns we’re seeing today compared to past outbreaks? How has the virus changed? How exactly is it transmitted? And, a question we haven’t asked in a very long time, how scared do we need to be? Tune in to hear us address these questions and many more about this re-emerging poxvirus.
Ep 99 Salmonella: A hard egg to crack
We’ve all been there: doubled over in pain as stomach cramps grip your guts; the panicked shuffle to the nearest bathroom; the waves of nausea and chills as you cry out loud, “oh no, what did I eat??”. At the very least, food poisoning is a humbling experience, but at the worst, it can be absolutely deadly. In this episode, we take a deep dive into one group of pathogens commonly responsible for outbreaks of food-borne illness, the infamous Salmonella. We start first with an exploration into how and why these bacteria make you sick before turning towards the history of these pathogens, a history which includes a brief jaunt through a bizarre story involving a cult, bioterrorism, and a small Oregon town. Finally, we wrap up the episode with a look at Salmonella by the numbers today. You’ll leave this episode brimming with Salmonella knowledge, thinking twice about how well you cook your chicken or wash your veggies, and contemplating how fast you can get your hands on a food thermometer. Trust us - you’re not gonna want to miss this one!
Ep 98 Folate: Marmite, anyone?
It’s been years since our first (and, until now, only) vitamin-centric episode on scurvy, and we’re thrilled to be dipping our toes back into these nutritious waters with this episode on folate. Have you ever wondered why folate is important or what the difference is between folate and folic acid? Or maybe you’re curious about this vitamin’s discovery and the impact that fortification programs have had around the world. Look no further - this episode has got all the folate facts you could desire. Tune in to hear how antifolates are used in cancer treatment, where folate got its name, and what a famous savory food spread has to do with the history of this essential vitamin.
Best Way to Make Work Fly By
Ok, so I have binged around 30 episodes in the last two weeks and I know when I catch up then run out I am not even going to know what to listen to at work between episodes. Very interesting podcast that keeps you interested. I love that it goes in depth AND that you can tell they are people with an interest in the subject matter, not just someone relaying facts blandly.
Knowledgable. Adorably excited about it!
I’ve listened to this podcast here and there, and each time I fall in love all over again. Erin and Erin are adorably excited about the super cool science that they talk about. As a science teacher, I relate entirely. (I once went off on a tangent about osmosis and plants that had my students questioning my sanity.)
I am excited to bring this to my classroom next year—especially the one on lead poisoning (yep. I’m behind!) for when we talk about environmental racism in my environmental science class. I’m excited to hear about the resources too—because I was looking for those last time I taught this and could not find it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I love this pod!
Medical Lab Scientist
I absolutely love this podcast, and I was even more happy that you guys did a little Medical Lab Scientist section/shout out in the Salmonella episode! I have been working as an MLS in a microbiology lab for years and I love it. We need more science minded people to know about our career path because there’s a huge need for more medical lab scientists! Thank you so much!