The 6th Edition of Through the Microscope is now complete

Contributed by paustian on Apr 23, 2017 - 02:55 PM

The 6th edition of Through the Microscope is now complete, including hard copy, and ebook versions for Kindle and epub readers. The 5th edition is now officially retired. I was originally going to close the 5th edition, but there are a number of courses and classes still using it. Therefore, it will remain open for at least another year. I still strong encourage any future students to use the 6th edition. In any case, enjoy!

GMO food of no real danger

Contributed by paustian on May 18, 2016 - 09:26 AM

love science and microbiology. I love fitness and nutrition. If you take care of your body and feed it well, it goes a long way to having great quality of life. So I am always interested in fitness and nutrition.

Having the perspective of a scientist, any claims I read for a fitness routine or nutrition regimen have to backed by good solid evidence. This can be very hard to come by. Nutrition research is extremely difficult, because you are dealing with food. The food we eat is incredibly complex, containing hundreds of chemicals that interact with our genetic background and our microbiomes. Even more complexity is added if you are doing the food research using people. Any human subject research will involve hundreds of uncontrollable variables, because you cannot tell a human to only consume leafy greens and broccoli for a year and please stay in this cage the whole time. Where they live, their behaviors and what other food they eat will all influence whatever the research is trying to measure. No matter the nutrition question, finding an answer can be extremely difficult. 

Glyphosate appears to not cause cancer

Contributed by paustian on Nov 14, 2015 - 02:57 PM

Science Insider reports that a recent evaluation from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) declares that glyphosate is unlikely to increase the risk of cancer. They also set a limit on what is thought to be a safe does, 0.5 mg per kilogram of body weight. So someone weighing 80 kilograms (166 pounds) could consume 40 mg of glyphosate a day and run no increased risk of cancer. Other agencies have weighed into this in the last few years and concluded that there is some risk. The difficulty comes from assessing the toxicity to humans either based on studies using rats or mice as the model animal, or looking at epidemiological studies. Mice and rats are not humans, really. Our bodies may react differently than a rodents. In the epidemiological studies, large populations have to be examined to detect small risks and often these studies are expensive and fraud with confounding variables. Epidemiological studies can only show correlation, not causation. For right now, it seems glyphosate, such as Roundup, appear to be safe.

Hepatitis C, what was once incurable, can now be cured

Contributed by paustian on Nov 07, 2015 - 11:59 AM

Hepatitis C (HPVC) is a virus that attacks the liver, and will take up residence for the long term. The body is unable to rid itself of the virus and it will continue to replicate in the liver, potentially leading to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and potentially death. Recently some powerful new drugs have won approval that treat various parts of the HPVC replication cycle. Jon Cohen reports in Science Magazine of a new treatment combining the most promising of these drugs into a single therapy that in a small clinical trial cured patients of the virus in just 3 weeks. While the trial tested this idea out on the most treatable patients, it clearly demonstrated the power of the new drugs.

There is a downside to the story in that the drugs developed are prohibitively expensive with some of them selling for $1000 a pill. In addition the various drug companies have not tried these therapies sooner because they seem themselves as competitors, not collaborators. However, physicians are free to prescribe the drugs in combination. It’s a great day for science and drug development.

The 5th edition of Through the Microscope is now available

Contributed by paustian on Jan 15, 2014 - 07:39 PM

After several months of hard work, updating the textbook, working on site design, and upgrading the code, the 5th edition of Through the Microscope is now ready. The new edition includes:

  • New information on bacterial division
  • An updated section describing the bacterial cytoskeleton
  • A completely updated Microbial Ecology section
  • A new more efficient site design that makes using the textbook easier
  • AJAX code that makes available new book tools for working with the textbook
  • and much more

The 5th edition is available by subscription using PayPal (or credit cards). Subscribers to the textbook can also download an eBook version (which has also been updated to a 5th edition). For those that prefer a book they can hold and take with them, you can purchase a print copy of Through the Microscope​ from See the Subscribe to the Book section at the bottom of this page for more information. 

You can learn more by  browsing the table on contents.

Dynamix is Dynamite

Contributed by paustian on Jan 03, 2014 - 07:31 PM

The last day of the week it is an option to take a rest day. If you are feeling good and not hurting too bad, I really recommend you do the Dynamix workout. It is not demanding and is so good for working out the kinks. After a week of P90X3 I was sore all over, not too bad, but I was feeling it. However, I really wanted to explore this DVD so I popped it in and I am glad I did. This is the final workout of the first cycle and it works outs out all your kinks and helps with mobility. It is a recovery workout, giving you a break and not working you too hard. However, I was sweating by the end of it because you do some isometric moves for your core. Dynamix again is all new stuff, and it is based on the latest research about stretching – it is more effective to dynamically stretch your muscles than static stretching alone and that is what this workout teaches you. The cast is great as always. Two people from the test group and an olympic sprinter from England who helped Tony develop this routine.

After the first week, I must say I am really impressed with P90X3. I do hope the next set of workouts will focus a little more on the arms, as I feel that is lacking in these workouts. However, I think I may be wrong about how much my arms were involved, because they are sore after the week, clearly being worked.

The Warrior Workout

Contributed by paustian on Jan 02, 2014 - 08:03 PM

This is the workout that Tony developed for traveling around the country to various Military bases. He was faced with an interesting problem, how do I create a workout that a ton of people can do at once, that doesn't require any equipment, large amounts of space, and is challenging. The answer is, The Warrior. This is an intense workout that challenges all your muscles. It is broken down into 4 complexes of 4 moves each; an upper body move, a lower body move, a core move and a cardio/plyo move. Many of the moves incorporate a stability component, forcing you to recruit muscles along the kinetic chain. For example, Thumbs-Up Push-Up, you do a push-up and then raise your right arm and left leg. This activates the stabilizing muscles in your left arm and right leg, while at the same time working your back, glutes, hamstrings and shoulders. Needless to say, you will be sweating by the time you get to the end of this, but it's fun all the same. Be careful with the sprawl moves (moving to the ground from an upright position) Form is important here to avoid injury. This is a great workout to do on the road, since you don't need any equipment and can do this anywhere.


Contributed by paustian on Jan 01, 2014 - 06:23 PM

When I first saw this I wondered what does CVX stand for? From doing the workout I think it stands for CardioVascular X, and this is Tony's idea of an aerobic workout. I think a better name would be Med Ball Hell. In CVX you do a bunch of moves designed to get your heart rate up and then add a med ball (or dumbbell) to add resistance to what you are doing on the upper body. The combination is a challenge. I started with a 10 pound med ball and after a few exercises I moved down to a 6 pounder. This workout is a testament to how well designed the program is; a difficult move (Press Jacks, Holding a weight at chest level, jump your feet out as you extend the weight upwards. Lower the weight as you return to a normal standing position) is followed by two easier moves (Atlas Twist, a lunging and twisting move) and (March and Reach). The moves come in clusters of 3, you do the first set at a “moderate” pace and pick it up for the second round. In all there are 4 sets of 12 moves, so you end up doing 24 moves. You will be sweating by the end of this, but it's a great cardio workout. Tony is again hilarious (I do like corny humor, you may not). The cast really work well with Tony and you can tell they enjoyed the workout.

Some of CVX grew out of Tony's work in the One-on-One series (for example, Medicine Ball Core Cardio). P90X3 really is a culmination of everything Tony and the rest of the Beach Body team have learned about fitness and nutrition. I loved this workout.  

X3 Yoga

Contributed by paustian on Jan 01, 2014 - 06:20 PM

This is a workout for those who don’t like yoga. You go through some nice poses, and get a little balance work in too. And you are done in no time. Ted comes back from P90X2 yoga, Terry Morrow of P90X2 Plyocide and Stephanie Saunders rounds out the cast. (Stephanie is Tony’s helper in many of his online chats and worked really closely with him developing the whole P90X3 series.)  I really liked the supporting cast, they have a great chemistry and Tony is FUNNY in this one.

Agility X

Contributed by paustian on Dec 30, 2013 - 12:44 PM

I can give you my impression of this workout in one word. Wow! It keeps you moving, its fun, it pushes you in all sort of directions and Tony is his hilarious self. This workout is all about doing cardio type work, yet also working on your balance and precision. You are told in How to Accelerate to create some markings on the floor with Tape, or quarters or something. You are asked to use tape, about 4 foot sizes long, in the middle mark an X and put Xs on each side of it. Make two tape strips like this and then place them about 4 feet apart if you are in pretty good shape and agile, or less if 4 feet is too difficult. This is the first workout that uses them and this is essential. Don't blow it off and say you can imagine it, you need those targets to have your body move in exactly the right way, using the right muscles. I would liken this workout to plyometrics, but it adds a coordination component to it that is really fun. Don't beat yourself up if you can't hit the targets and you find yourself fumbling the first few times in. Just keep trying. This is the stuff that athletes do and if you work on these areas, you will become more athletic yourself. I was drenched in sweat after this one.

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