Friday Funny!

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Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Send it in here to be posted as one of our Friday Funnies!

Not so Fast, E-Textbooks: The Battle Between Digital and Print

E-Books versus print books is a hotly debated topic at the moment as the publishing world shifts farther into the digital realm. Check out the infograhic below, courtesy of, that illustrates this phenomenon and let us know what you think.  Are your students buying more e-Books or do traditional print books still dominate your classroom? Leave a comment below and let us know!

E-Textbooks Infographic

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Have a great science/math/teaching joke? We want to hear them!

15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary: 5/19 – 5/25

To celebrate WebAssign’s 15th anniversary, each Monday we will be bringing you 15 anniversaries in science, technology, mathematics, and education that you can look forward to throughout the week. Here are some important dates in history coming up this week:

May 19

1914 – Austrian-British molecular biologist Max Perutz is born. Perutz receives the Nobel prize for his work studying the structure of hemoglobin, the iron-containing portion of erythrocytes that transport oxygen in the blood.

May 20

1570 – The first modern atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, is printed by Abraham Ortelius.

1875 – Seventeen nations sign the Metre Convention in Paris, France. This treaty creates organizations tasked with developing the metric system for use globally. Nearly a decade later this work results in the International System of Units.

 1851 – German-American inventor Emile Berliner is born. Berliner invents the gramphone record, which quickly gains in popularity over Thomas Edison’s wax cylinders.

1860 – German chemist and zymologist Eduard Buchner is born. Buchner demonstrates that live yeast cells are not necessary for fermentation, earning him the Nobel prize.

1918 – American geneticist Edward B. Lewis is born. Lewis receives the Nobel prize for his studies of the genes of fruit flies. After World War II, radioactive materials were ubiquitous in everyday products. Lewis speaks out in publications and in front of the US Congress on the dangers of accumulated exposure to radioactivity.

May 21

1792 – French mathematician, scientist, and engineer Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis is born. Coriolis describes the phenomenon which becomes known as the Coriolis effect. Coriolis publishes a textbook on mechanics, making the erudite subject more applicable to industry, and coins the word “work” to describe a force acting on a object over a distance.

1799 – British paleontologist Mary Anning is born. Anning’s discoveries and identifications of the fossil remains of previously unknown organisms contributes greatly to the new field of paleontology, significantly impacting the fundamental changes which are occurring at this time in scientific thinking and our understanding of the history of the earth.

1850 – Italian vulcanologist Giuseppe Mercalli is born. Mercalli’s study of volcanoes and earthquakes results in a standardized classification of earthquake events that will be called the Mercalli intensity scale.

1860 – Dutch physician and physiologist Willem Einthoven is born. Einthoven invents a device to detect and record the electrical activity of the heart. Einthoven receives the Nobel prize for his invention of the electrocardiogram, or EKG.

1921 – Soviet nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov is born. Sakharov helps the Soviet Union develop a thermonuclear weapon. Having been personally affected by the ethical implications of his involvement in the creation of a new weapon of mass destruction, Sakharov speaks out against the use of nuclear weapons. Sakharov receives the Nobel peace prize for his activism. Two prizes which bear Sakharov’s name are later created to be awarded to scientists who promote human rights.

May 23

1908 – American physicist John Bardeen is born. Bardeen receives the Nobel prize for his work on the invention of the transistor, and a Nobel prize for his contributions to BCS theory, a fundamental component of the phenomenon of superconductivity.

1934 – American physicist Robert Moog is born. Moog pioneers electronic music with the invention of the Moog synthesizer.

May 24

1595 – The nomenclator of the Leiden University Library in the Netherlands appears. This is the first printed catalog of the contents of an institutional library.

May 25

2012 – The Dragon spacecraft developed by SpaceX becomes the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station.

Friday Funny!

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Have a good science/math/teaching joke? We want to hear them!

Join us for the 13th Annual WebAssign Users Group Meeting!

It’s almost that time again! The 13th annual WebAssign Users Group Meeting (WAUG)  is scheduled for June 27-28 in Raleigh, NC at the new Hunt Library and College of Engineering on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus.  Complex magazine’s Art&Design website has ranked the new Hunt Library as one of the “25 coolest college libraries” in the world.


More than 200 educators from across the nation, all leaders in STEM education, are expected to attend.

“Our registration numbers have consistently increased over the years, and it appears as though we will hit a record this year,” said Mark Santee, vice president of product and marketing at WebAssign. “It is a gratifying validation of our mission to improve teaching and learning. And we’re proud again to bring so many dedicated STEM faculty to the Raleigh area.”

This year’s WAUG meeting will celebrate the 15th anniversary of WebAssign. WAUG ’13 registrants will learn about WebAssign’s innovative features that increase student engagement and learning, and will have the opportunity to meet with other adopters to exchange ideas about what has been working in their respective courses. In addition, attendees will have a chance to meet with WebAssign developers, experts, and executive team members.

Registration is open now, there is no fee to attend, and space is limited so sign up today! Read more about last year’s WAUG event, which was attended by over 150 teachers, and check out our WAUG promo video below:

15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary: 5/12 – 5/18

To celebrate WebAssign’s 15th anniversary, each Monday we will be bringing you 15 anniversaries in science, technology, mathematics, and education that you can look forward to throughout the week. Here are some important dates in history coming up this week:

May 12

1910 – British chemist Dorothy Hodgkin is born. Hodgkin’s work advances the techniques of X-ray crystallography, which is used to determine the microscopic structures of materials. Hodgkin uses these techniques to determine the structure of several biomolecules such as penicillin, insulin, and vitamin B12, for which she receives the Nobel prize. Hodgkin’s methods improve future research into the structure of biomolecules, providing significant advances to our understanding of the function of these molecules, and allowing for the invention and synthesis of novel medical treatments such as new antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals.

May 13

1857 – British physician Sir Ronald Ross is born. Ross receives the Nobel prize for his discovery of the parasite that causes malaria inside of the digestive tract of the mosquito. The confirmation of a vector for the disease encourages Ross to investigate methods of controlling the mosquito population, and therefore the malaria disease, by controlling the mosquito’s access to water, which is a critical step in its life cycle. This investigation leads to his development of mathematical models for epidemiology.

1880 – American inventor Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electrified railway system in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

1883 – Greek pathologist Georgios Papanikolaou is born. Papanikolaou’s investigations into the causes of cancer result in his invention of the Papanikolaou test or “Pap smear” for cervical cancer.

1958 – The trade mark Velcro is registered. Invented a decade earlier by Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral,  Velcro is soon used for a variety of applications from apparel to space travel.

May 14

1899 – French physicist Pierre Victor Auger is born. Auger observes that the events associated with cosmic rays tended to occur in multitudes all at the same time, causing him to conclude that these events were all initiated by a single event. This phenomenon later becomes known as an air shower.

May 15

1857 – Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming is born. Fleming discovers over 10,000 stars, 59 nebulae, over 310 variable stars, and 10 novae. Fleming’s most well-known discovery is of the Horsehead Nebula.

1859  – French physicist Pierre Curie is born. Pierre Curie and his brother Jacques Curie demonstrate the piezoelectric effect whereby a compressed crystal generates electricity. Pierre Curie later shares the Nobel prize with his wife, Marie Curie, for pioneering the study of radioactivity, a term which they invented.

May 16

1718 – Italian mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi is born. Agnesi is quickly recognized as a child prodigy, mastering at least seven languages by the age of thirteen. At age nine, she published and delivered a discourse in Latin defending the right of women to benefit from higher education. Agnesi writes the first book involving both differential and integral calculus, and an introduction to the works of Euler for young mathematicians.

1831 – Welsh-American scientist and musician David Edward Hughes is born. Hughes develops improvements for the microphone and teleprinter, invents an early precursor to radio transmissions, the spark-gap transmitter, and also invents the crystal radio.

1845 – Russian biologist Élie Metchnikoff is born. Metchnikoff theorizes that white blood cells envelop harmful bacteria and destroy them. His research leads to the realization that this mechanism, called phagocytosis, is utilized by innumerable single and multicellular organisms. Metchnikoff’s work on phagocytosis earns him the Nobel prize.

1960 – The first optical laser is used by Theodore Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories. This is the first use of a ruby laser.

May 17

1749 – English physician Edward Jenner is born. Jenner becomes a pioneer in the field of immunology, and develops the smallpox vaccine after observing that milkmaids who were exposed to cowpox were immune to smallpox. Over 200 years later, the World Health Organization would declare that the disease of smallpox had been eradicated.

2005 – Photos from the Hubble Space Telescope confirm that Pluto has two additional moons, Hydra and Nix. A year later, the International Astronomical Union states that a planet must satisfy three criteria: 1) it is in orbit around the sun, 2) it has sufficient mass to assume a nearly round shape, and 3) it has “cleared the neighborhood” around its orbit. The discovery of Pluto’s additional moons results in its reclassification as a plutoid, as it fails to meet the third criteria for being a planet.

May 18

1850 – English engineer, mathematician, and physicist Oliver Heaviside is born. Heaviside spends much of his life reforming the mathematics used in physics. Originally, James Clerk Maxwell’s equations describing electromagnetism was formulated using 20 equations and 20 variables. Heaviside applies the techniques of vector calculus to condense Maxwell’s work into only four equations. Heaviside predicts the existence of  a portion of the ionosphere which would later be called the Kennelly–Heaviside layer. He invents the Heaviside step function, and invents many of the terms used to describe electromagnetism, including admittance, conductance, inductance, impedance, permeability, and permittance.