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Petri Dish

Petri Dish

Author: Petri Dish

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Profane, insane, and 100% primo science, Petri Dish is a no-BS podcast that explores the wildest subjects in modern science with clarity and evil joy.

Hosted by Sean Allen, a Nanoparticle/Immunology Researcher, and Nathan Allen, his "screenwriter" brother, Petri Dish fuses hard science with a freewheeling and madcap conversational style.

Cannabinoids, Plague, Cats, the dreaded Candiru, and the even more dreaded Covid-19: all these and more are dissected with intellect and irreverence, dropping every week.

So reject ignorance. Join the Scientific Revolution. Join Petri Dish.
52 Episodes
Ep. 46 Science of Sick

Ep. 46 Science of Sick


What actually happens when you get infected with something? What are the steps your body goes through to protect you? Why do so many illnesses have "flu-like" symptoms? Find out this week as Sean and Nathan dive into the SCIENCE OF SICK(ness)! We recorded this episode a while ago, so it does not make reference to current (US) events. We here at Petri Dish support protesters and the cause they represent -- an end to racial discrimination against Black people, an end to police brutality, and a restructuring of the USA to a more equitable and equal society. Black lives matter! Thank you everyone, for listening. Featuring a promo for Jolly Green Scientists, an upcoming science podcast! Check out the hosts on twitter @SixLeggedAggie and @Planthropology_ Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. Support us for as little as $1 a month at Thanks! References:
This week we talk about some specific cephalopods and how weird/cool they are! Giant squids! Blue-ringed octopuses! Bigfin squids, argonauts, nautiloids, and more! Get your fill of these funky folks under the sea! Featuring a promo for Thorndale, an actual play podcast! Check them out at and on twitter  @ThornvaleCast Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. Support us for as little as $1 a month at Thanks! References:
This episode is about cephalopods! Octopuses, squids, cuttlefish! All the jabronis! This is actually a two-parter. In this episode we're talking about cephalopod blood, eyes, ink, camo, and intelligence! Next time we are going to be talking about specific cephalopods that we think are particularly weird and cool! Featuring a promo for Planthropology, a podcast about plants! Check them out on twitter @planthropology_ and online at Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. Support us for as little as $1 a month at Thanks! References:
This episode is about the causative agent for mad cow disease, scrapie, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob -- prions! It's not a bacteria, it's not a fungus, it isn't even a virus! No, it is a little protein encoded in our own genome! Find out how there can be an infectious disease caused by a misfolded protein. Featuring a promo for Lit Gaming Arena Podcast! Check them out on twitter @litgamingarena and online at Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. Support us for as little as $1 a month at Thanks! References:
Ravens, crows, and other corvids have held a special place in the human imagination for centuries, and deservedly so! In this episode, we discuss ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE in the context of ravens and crows. We talk about tool-making, inductive reasoning, and convergent evolution of counting! Funky stuff! Learn about these cool birds! Special shoutout to Dr. Swift (twitter: @corvidresearch), her twitter and blog inspired us to do this episode! Featuring a promo for the podcast Ignorance Was Bliss, check it out on twitter @IWBpodcast and Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. References:
In part 1 we talked about bat diseases and bat immune system stuff, but this episode is is all about how bats are cool! Bat pollination! Bat pooping! Bat bros! So much bat! Learn about these weirdos! Featuring a promo for the audio drama Oz-9! Check them out on twitter @Oz9podcast Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. References:
Hey! New episode! Part 3 of our series on skin, we welcome back Scientist Matilde Miranda to discuss cellulite and skincare -- a topic she is very passionate about! Learn about all her fancy skincare tips, and don't forget you can tweet us (@dishpodcast) or her (@mirandamspock) to ask questions! Featuring a promo for podcast Grief Burrito -- check them out and on twitter @GriefBurrito! Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. References:
Bats are awesome and do so many useful things for the environment -- BUT that is all for part 2! Part 1 is about bats as disease reservoirs -- something they seem to do very well. We talk about what diseases bats are typically reservoirs for and what particular bat immune system characteristics might enable them to be so good at harboring viruses. This episode has some COVID-19 talk, so if you're burned out on that either skip the first 12 min or skip the whole episode! Also! Bats are truly awesome. Please don't listen to this episode and come away from it with the thought of "we should get rid of bats". They aren't just important, they're wonderful! Also, a (very) recent study suggests bats don't have any more viruses (that infect humans) per species than other orders of mammals or birds. Lots of nuance in that study, but the main point is, be kind to bats!! Featuring a promo for CastJunkie! (@castjunkie on twitter, References:
Hey! New episode (and coronavirus free!) on the adaptive immune system! These are the cells that pump out antibodies, coordinate immune responses, and have memory so you can fight off diseases faster the second time around. Also featured is a note on immune system complexity, complex networks, and emergent properties! Trigger warning -- we mention the word 'suicide' in the context of cells telling other cells to undergo programmed cell death! If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, please check out some of our other episodes! Stay safe out there everyone! Featuring a promo for @ContrivancePod (Previously known as Snark Tank Pod). Check them out on twitter or at Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. References:
Hi everyone, this is a SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 update episode on a treatment's (remdesivir) early experimental results, why antibody tests might not be the magic bullet everyone wants them to be, and one final discussion on the conspiracy that SARS-CoV-2 might be a bio-engineered virus. If you don't want any COVID-19 stuff going into your ear holes, avoid this episode! Listen to some of our other stuff, like our episodes on dogs, or skin, or acupuncture! Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. If you're a creator of cool art stuff, check out the Boston Collective Film Festival at and use promo code petridish References:
Ep. 37 Acne and Wrinkles

Ep. 37 Acne and Wrinkles


Hey! It is part 2 of our 4 part series on skin, this time on acne and wrinkles! In our first episode we had Matilde Miranda, skin researcher extraordinaire (@mirandamspock on twitter) tell us about Skin Biology. Well she is back! And she is telling us the secrets of what acne is (not always bacterial!) and where wrinkles come from! Skincare enthusiasts should check this one out! Email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. If you're a creator of cool art stuff, check out the Boston Collective Film Festival at and use promo code petridish References:;year=2015;volume=4;issue=1;spage=47;epage=53;aulast=Borumand
Hi everyone! Hope you are keeping it safe out there! This week we give you part 1 of 2 on the immune system. We'll be beginning with innate immunity this time and will be talking about the adaptive immune system in the next episode! What cells are on the front line, fighting on the front line to defend your body? Osmosis Jones! Check out our patreon at email us at petridishpod -at- On twitter @dishpodcast and instagram @petridishpodcast. If you're a creator of cool art stuff, check out the Boston Collective Film Festival at and use promo code petridish References:
Ep. 35 Skin Biology

Ep. 35 Skin Biology


Hey folks! How about a corona- and disease-break? This special mid-week release of Petri Dish is about SKIN! This episode is part of a (non-sequential) series on skin-related bio stuff, in which we had a guest skin scientist, Matilde Miranda, sit in and chat with us about a bunch of different skin things. This episode is the primer, it is going to help you get nice and situated for the rest of the series, which will cover: acne, wrinkles, cellulite, skincare tips, aging, and the relationship between skin and sun. So much! This episode is about the layers of skin, of which there are a ton. Featuring a promo for Not Suitable for Adults Podcast, check them out at and on twitter @Not4AdultsCast Contact us @dishpodcast on twitter, @petridishpodcast on instagram, and petridishpod -at-! Hit us up if you have any skincare questions for Matilde (@mirandamspock)! Reference: Matilde's Brain
Hey! This is another in our series on pandemics... except there hasn't really been a pandemic of viral hemorrhagic fevers, just epidemics! But that doesn't make them less freaky-deaky, just think about how you feel about EBOLA. Ebola isn't the only virus in town though, so tune in to hear about all the different viruses that cause this class of illness. Content-warning! We discuss, at the end of this episode, a little comparison between ebolavirus and SARS-CoV-2. If you aren't into that, we actually give a warning in the episode too, so feel free to tune out then! Featuring a promo for Round & Round The Podcast, check them out at and @RnRThePodcast on twitter! References:
For the 16 people out there that aren't sick of COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 information already, here is another BONUS MINISODE on just that topic! This time around we're covering treatments that scientists and doctors around the world are trying to use to fight COVID-19. We discuss the WHO's new clinical trial to gather some data on these treatments, talk about 5 of the treatments more specifically, and then go into debunking mode! Useful links on the latest number of infected: References:
Ep. 33 Pandemic: PLAGUE

Ep. 33 Pandemic: PLAGUE


The second episode in our pandemic series is about one of the OGs, plague! This sucker has killed hundreds of millions of people in the past couple millennia, but has been brought low by antibiotics (yay SCIENCE!). But is it gone forever? Nah. Also, bubonic plague as a bioweapon?! It isn't a new idea... Promo this week is for Controller Disconnected Podcast! Check them out at  and on twitter @condisconnected We are also on twitter @dishpodcast and on instagram @petridishpodcast AND have an email address Hit us up! References:
This new series of episodes we're doing is on different pandemic diseases throughout history, with our first disease being tuberculosis! The series won't be a bunch of episodes in a row, but as we do more and more diseases we will begin comparing different pandemics. This episode covers the modern tuberculosis situation (2 billion people infected!) and our long history with the disease. We'll talk about treatments, drug resistance, disease characteristics, and the vaccine. Featuring a promo for the great podcast Just the Zoo of Us, check them out! @JusttheZooofUs on twitter Become a patron at! References:
This is the second half of our two-parter on mankind's best friend! Last week's episode covered domestication and breeds. This week is about dog behavior, dog jobs, and dog fritos feet. Featuring a promo for the podcast Snark Tank -- check them out on twitter @SnarkTankPod and at References: There are actually ~10 more references
SARS-CoV-2, HCOV-19, nCoV-19... Whatever you want to call this coronavirus, it is making a splash in countries all over the globe: big outbreaks in Italy, South Korea, and Iran, along with growing numbers of infected people (largely untested) in the USA. In this episode, Sean and Nathan discuss the US CDC's response to the coronavirus and dive a little into a paper about there being two potential 'strains' of this virus already. References:
Humankind's best friend! Pupperinos! In this week's episode of Petri Dish Nathan and Sean talk about dogs! This is part 1, where we talk about the domestication of dogs and some biological information about dog breeds! In part 2 we'll go into of the science of dog behavior and biology.  Featuring a promo for the podcast Controller Disconnected! Follow them @condisconnected on Twitter! Follow us too @dishpodcast and email us petridishpod -at- If you like what we do, consider giving us a buck a month at References:
Comments (3)

Vikram Baliga

This was a super fascinating episode. Prions are wild little murder proteins and this was honestly such an interesting break from all the virus talk. Great job as always!

May 21st

Sam Lee

Siberian Huskies are the missing link between wolves and dogs you're looking for...! 👍 The Chukchi tribe about 3000 years ago in the area of E.Russia bread dogs for hunting trips that are the closest relatives of wolves and siberian huskies....or so I heard 💁🏻‍♂️ 🤷‍♂️!

Mar 13th
Reply (1)
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