15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary: 7/28 – 8/3

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:

July 28

1925 – American physician Baruch Samuel Blumberg is born. Blumberg develops a screening test for the cancer-causing virus hepatitis B, and later develops a vaccine for the virus. Blumberg freely distributes the patent for the vaccine, resulting in its wide administration and a reduction in infection rates of hepatitis B in Chinese children from 15% to 1% within a decade. Blumberg later receives the nobel prize for his work researching the prion disease kuru.

July 29

1898 – American physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi is born. Rabi receives the Nobel prize for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance, the phenomenon utilized by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Rabi later uses the newly-discovered  cavity magnetron to improve radar technology. This work later becomes integral in the development of the microwave oven.

1957 – The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is established to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technologies.

1958 – The National Aeronautics and Space Act is signed by United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

2005 – Astronomers from Palomar Observatory announce the discovery of the dwarf planet Eris. The trans-Neptunian object is also classified as a plutoid, and is about 25% more massive than Pluto, while being approximately the same size.

July 30

1889 – Russian physicist Vladimir K. Zworykin is born. Zworykin developed a method of transmitting and receiving television images using cathode ray tubes, and was greatly involved in the early development of the television.

1947 – French virologist Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is born. Barré-Sinoussi receives the Nobel prize for her discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

1971 – The NASA Apollo Lunar Module lands on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission. This is the first mission to utilize the Lunar Roving Vehicle.

July 31

1918 – American chemist Paul D. Boyer is born. Boyer receives the Nobel prize for his discovery of how organisms biosynthesize the essential molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

August 1

1744 – French scientist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck is born. Lamarck is an early contributor to evolutionary theory, and his work is later used (and in some cases disproven) by Charles Darwin.

1774 – British scientist Joseph Priestly discovers what he calls “dephlogisticated air”. This discovery of the element oxygen confirms the similar work by Carl Wilhelm Scheele a couple years earlier.

1818 – American astronomer Maria Mitchell is born. For Mitchell’s discovery of a comet in 1847 she is awarded a gold medal by King Frederick VII of Denmark.

1885 – Hungarian chemist George de Hevesy is born. Hevesy discovers the element hafnium, and receives the Nobel prize for his development of radioactive tracers used in scientific research to study certain chemical processes in organisms, and used in medicine for procedures such as PET scans.

August 2

1820 – Irish physicist John Tyndall is born. Tyndall is the first to prove that the earth’s atmosphere exhibits a greenhouse effect. In addition to inventing an improved respirator for firemen, and an improved foghorn, Tyndall publishes seventeen books to educate the public about experimental physics.

1932 – American physicist Carl D. Anderson discovers the antiparticle of the electron, the positron. Anderson later receives the Nobel prize for this discovery.

Friday Funny!

electron joke

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

WebAssign Summertime Coding Contest!

Contest Details

Our Content Services department is competing in a contest to see who can produce the best summer themed waplot, and we need your help to determine the winner.  Below are the six entries, please vote for your favorite!

What is a Waplot?

The waplot tag provides an abstraction layer between user-input and ‘real syntax’ used to create graphs and other plots within the WebAssign questions environment.  In other words, it is how we internally generate graphs and plots without having to learn specific program code that is dependent on the software we are using.

In order to create these complex graphics, the entrants had to calculate the necessary equations and overlay multiple types of plots (line, region, circle, etc.).

For example, in contest entry #3 (Disc Golf), the code below was used to generate the Sun and Mountain portion of the image.

<plot type=’region’ range=’-11,11; 0,11′ vars=’x,y’ color=’RGBColor(255/255,215/255,0/255)’> (x-9)^2/4 + (y – 9.5)^2 < 2</plot>

<plot type=’linechart’ color=’brown’ thickness=’thick’ filling = ‘axis’ fillingcolor=’RGBColor(85/255,107/255,47/255)’> {{-12,3},{-8, 5},{-7.5,5.5},{-7, 5.75}, {-6.5, 5.25}, {-6.25, 5}, {-6,5},{-5, 5.75}, {-4, 6.5}, {-3, 6.5}, {-1, 7}, {0, 6.8}, {1, 7}, {13.5,4}} </plot>

Plot 1: Sand Castle
abacon summer waplot
Plot 2: Palm Tree
Plot 3: Disc Golf
Plot 4: Beach Chair
Plot 5: Beach Party
Plot 6: Fuzzy Summer

MarvinSketch Enhancements Are Here!

WebAssign is pleased to announce that MarvinSketch has been upgraded from 5.3.8 to 5.12.1. This update adds enhanced grading features needed for general and organic chemistry, instructor-requested grading and user interface advancements, and display and usability improvements.  We hope you will find that this newest upgrade provides an improved experience for you and your students. Below are some frequently asked questions that we hope will ensure a smooth transition, but more details and information can be found on our Instructor Support page as well.

7-18-2013 3-59-05 PM

What has changed in the new version of MarvinSketch?

  • Enhanced user interface such as better snapping of bonds and arrows
  •  Better organization of the MarvinSketch tools
  • Improved handling of Lewis resonance structures and electron-flow mechanism diagrams
  • Improved grading, in particular for stereochemistry
  • Improved display of charges (+, -) and lone pairs
  • Improved display of electron flow arrows

What has changed if you write your own questions involving MarvinSketch?

New and updated questions will be created in 5.12.1 automatically. Your current questions will remain in MarkinSketch 5.3.8 unless you request an upgrade from WebAssign by contacting customer support. For more information about updating questions please read MarvinSketch Changes to Creating Questions. Otherwise all questions will be automatically upgraded on 12/31/2013.

What has changed for existing textbook questions?

Existing textbook questions have already been migrated to 5.12.1 after extensive quality assurance checks were passed.

Need more help?

Please don’t hesitate to contact our customer support team if you have any additional questions! Also, be sure and check out WebAssign’s Interactive General Chemistry 101 Webinar this Friday at 10am ET to learn more about WebAssign’s Original Chemistry offering.

Friday Funny!


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

New Content Available for Mathematics in WebAssign!

WebAssign is proud to support a wide variety of textbooks from numerous leading academic publishing partners. We are constantly adding to our textbook collection and are pleased to announce the following textbook additions to our mathematics content offering:

View the complete list of mathematics textbooks available with WebAssign here!

15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary: 7/14 – 7/20

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:

July 14

1960 – British primatologist and ethologist Jane Goodall travels to Gombe Stream National Park to study chimpanzees in their natural habitat. As one of Leakey’s Angels, she makes many unique observations of chimpanzee society. Goodall is the only human to ever be accepted into chimpanzee society.

1965 – NASA space probe Mariner 4 conducts the first flyby of  a planet other than earth. Mariner 4 returns the first close-up images of the planet Mars.

July 15

1799 – The Rosetta Stone is discovered during Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign in Egypt. The Rosetta Stone allows translators, such as English scientist Thomas Young, to decipher the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt.

1918 – British-Canadian neuropsychologist Brenda Milner is born. Milner’s research demonstrates how physical changes to brain structures affect the behavior and perception of humans and animals, and serves as the foundation for the field of neuropsychology.

1943 – Irish astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell is born. Bell Burnell discovers the existence of pulsars while conducting research with a radio telescope.

1975 – The United States and the Soviet Union launch the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. It is the first joint space travel venture by the two countries, and is the last launch of the Apollo missions, and the Saturn rocket family.

July 17

1920 – American physicist Gordon Gould is born. Gould is the first to propose methods and applications for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, or LASER.

July 18

1635 – English scientist and polymath Robert Hooke is born. Hooke studies astronomy, mechanics, and microscopy. Hooke explains the behavior of springs, and coins the term “cell” based on his observation that the cells of cork resemble the rooms of catholic monks. Hooke serves as the curator of the experiments of the Royal Society, and also produces several detailed drawings of what he observes under his microscope.

1853 – Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz is born. Lorentz produces mathematical transformations that connect the observations of one individual, to the observations of another who is moving with a different velocity. The Lorentz Transformations are later used by Albert Einstein to support his special theory of relativity. Lorentz also receives the Nobel prize for his explanation of the Zeeman effect.

1968 -The Intel Corporation is founded in Santa Clara, California.

July 19

1921 – American physicist Rosalyn Sussman Yalow is born. Yalow revolutionizes the field of endocrinology when she invents a very accurate method of measuring insulin concentration in blood, the radioimmunoassay (RIA). Yalow receives the Nobel prize for her invention of this widely-used process.

1956 – American computer scientist Mark Crispin is born. Crispin invents the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) used in the retrieval of e-mail messages.

July 20

1822 – German scientist Gregor Mendel is born. Mendel observes patterns in the inherited traits of pea plants. His attempts to predict the outcome of breeding the pea plants become known as Mendelian inheritance, and serve as the foundation for the scientific field of genetics.

1969 – NASA spacecraft Apollo 11 makes the first successful landing on the moon, in the Sea of Tranquility. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the moon a few hours after landing.

1976 – The NASA spacecraft Viking 1 successfully lands on Mars. The Viking 1 is the first spacecraft sent to the surface of Mars that completes its entire mission, which involves examining the surface environment for evidence of life, and testing the general theory of relativity.