ASM launches video podcast

Documentary highlights the microbial world and the evolution of life

Starting Tuesday, January 31, the American Society for Microbiology will launch a series of 15-25 minute video podcasts entitled Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth. The weekly video podcast excerpted from a PBS television series will explore the microbial world and how life has evolved over Earth's 3.8 billion-year history.

Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth features many well-known scientists, from Craig Venter, who led the way for mapping the human genome, to Carl Woese, who redrew the tree of life as we know it. Throughout the video podcast, viewers will meet other scientists across the globe working to investigate the microbial world in diverse settings from a termite's stomach to a hospital operating room to the radioactive soil of Chernobyl.

New episodes will be podcast each Tuesday. Upcoming episodes include:

  • Tues., January 31, "The Quest" -- Join Dr. Karl Stetter on a mission to find the closest living relative of the first life on Earth as he discovers a strain of bacteria he names Thermatoga.
  • Tues., February 7, "Harvesting the Puzzle" -- A new understanding of life on Earth has forced us to redraw the tree of life. Drs. Carl Woese and Norman Pace describe the process and challenges of categorizing microbial life.
  • Tues., February 14, "Who We Are?" -- Drs. Karen Nelson and Craig Venter map the genome of Thermatoga, the microbe Dr. Karl Stetter discovered in "The Quest," and find convincing evidence that Thermatoga's origins are very close to the beginning of life on Earth.

Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth is formatted specifically for Apple's video iPod but can also be viewed on computers and exported to television sets. The documentary is presented in layman's terms and is geared to anyone who has an interest in science. Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth is a production of Baker & Simon Associates in association with Oregon Public Broadcasting.


Viewers can access ASM's video podcast of Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth by entering ASM's URL feed address -- -- into Apple's iTunes or another podcast receiver such as Juice or Doppler. Detailed instructions on subscribing to Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth and ASM's audio podcast, "MicrobeWorld Radio," will also be available on ASM's MicrobeWorld website at

To download and preview the first episode of Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth go to For additional information about ASM's video podcast, please contact Chris Condayan, manager, public outreach, at 202-942-9302 or email [email protected].

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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