Manfred Kets de Vries’s picture

By: Manfred Kets de Vries

Serge faced a conundrum. One of his business partners was in a legal dispute with Serge’s father, Charlie, and asked for his help. Serge knew that his father was prone to suing everyone who crossed his path—including family members. The business partner had repeatedly tried to end this legal fight, to no avail. It seemed like Charlie didn’t want to find a resolution. He preferred to engage in self-sabotage to escalate the conflict. Impulse control was not one of Charlie’s strengths.

Many of us know people like Charlie who enjoy arguing for the sake of argument, and who thrive on drama and conflict. Personality types come in many shapes and colors, but quarrelsome people like Charlie don’t belong to a single one. Their combative behavior is an amalgamation of antisocial (psychopathic), borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic personalities.

The belligerent personality traits

Like many other psychiatric disorders, the specific causes of the belligerent personality have not been clearly identified. There is no known genetic link for this disorder. It is, however, associated with chaotic early child-parent attachment patterns in the form of abuse, neglect, and conflict.

Multiple Authors
By: Marcus Woo, Knowable Magazine

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

You may have heard the outlandish claim: Bill Gates is using the Covid-19 vaccine to implant microchips in everyone so he can track where they go. It’s false, of course, debunked repeatedly by journalists and fact-checking organizations. Yet the falsehood persists online—in fact, it’s one of the most popular conspiracy theories making the rounds. In May 2020, a Yahoo/YouGov poll found that 44 percent of Republicans (and 19 percent of Democrats) said they believed it.

This particular example is just a small part of what the World Health Organization now calls an infodemic—an unprecedented glut of information that may be misleading or false. Misinformation—false or inaccurate information of all kinds, from honest mistakes to conspiracy theories—and its more intentional subset, disinformation, are both thriving, fueled by a once-in-a-generation pandemic, extreme political polarization, and a brave new world of social media.

Mark Esser’s picture

By: Mark Esser

Alot has changed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) during the past 120 years. For one thing, we were known as the National Bureau of Standards for the first 87 years of our existence. Then, in 1988, we became the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), to reflect our agency’s expanding mission and a renewed emphasis on boosting the competitiveness of American industry.

But as much as things change, they also stay the same. While much of our early work has been baked into the American economy, NIST continues to be a world leader in advancing measurement science. We still provide many of our original services, though the techniques and technologies have evolved.

Zetec’s picture

By: Zetec

Ultrasonic testing has uses in many industries, from aerospace to hydrocarbon exploration. By providing an efficient and accurate method for testing material for flaws, and thus paving a way for smarter, more targeted maintenance plans, ultrasonic testing can save companies time and money.

Companies leverage ultrasonic technology for their volumetric nondestructive testing (NDT) needs. The most advanced ultrasonic equipment is durable, often portable, accurate, and incredibly easy to use. An understanding of how ultrasonic technology has evolved over the years can aid in decisions regarding ultrasonic NDT in various industries.

Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By: Donald J. Wheeler

Inspection sounds simple. Screen out the bad stuff and ship the good stuff. However, measurement error will always create problems of misclassification where good stuff is rejected, and bad stuff gets shipped. While guard-bands and tightened inspection have been offered as a way to remedy the problem of shipping bad stuff, it turns out that they are often prohibitively expensive in practice. Here we look at how tightened inspection improves the quality of the product stream and compare those improvements with the associated excess costs.

The problem of inspection

A product measurement, X, may be thought of as consisting of the product value, Y, plus some measurement error, E, so that X = Y + E. With this model, the relationship between X and Y can be shown using a bivariate normal probability model where:


Multiple Authors
By: Tinglong Dai, Christopher Tang, Ho-Yin Mak

More than 50 million Americans have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. So far, Americans have been largely brand-agnostic, but that’s about to change as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rolls out.

The vaccine been hailed as a game changer. It requires only a single dose rather than two doses spaced weeks apart, and it does not need freezer storage, making it a natural fit for hard-to-reach rural areas and underserved communities with limited access to healthcare and storage facilities.

Multiple Authors
By: Joseph Near, David Darais, Kaitlin Boeckl

Does your organization want to aggregate and analyze data to learn trends, but in a way that protects privacy? Or perhaps you are already using differential privacy tools, but want to expand (or share) your knowledge? In either case, NIST’s blog series on differential privacy is for you.

Why are we doing this series? Last year, NIST launched a Privacy Engineering Collaboration Space to aggregate open source tools, solutions, and processes that support privacy engineering and risk management. As moderators for the Collaboration Space, we’ve helped NIST gather differential privacy tools under the topic area of de-identification. NIST also has published the “Privacy Framework: A Tool for Improving Privacy through Enterprise Risk Management” and a companion road map that recognized a number of challenge areas for privacy, including the topic of de-identification.

Anne Trafton’s picture

By: Anne Trafton

Engineers at MIT and Imperial College London have developed a new way to generate tough, functional materials using a mixture of bacteria and yeast similar to the “kombucha mother” used to ferment tea.

Using this mixture, also called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), the researchers were able to produce cellulose embedded with enzymes that can perform a variety of functions, such as sensing environmental pollutants. They also showed that they could incorporate yeast directly into the material, creating “living materials” that could be used to purify water or to make “smart” packaging materials that can detect damage.

“We foresee a future where diverse materials could be grown at home or in local production facilities, using biology rather than resource-intensive centralized manufacturing,” says Timothy Lu, an MIT associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering.

Lu and Tom Ellis, a professor of bioengineering at Imperial College London, are the senior authors of the paper, which appeared in Nature Materials. The paper’s lead authors are MIT graduate student Tzu-Chieh Tang and Cambridge University postdoc Charlie Gilbert.

Scott A. Hindle’s picture

By: Scott A. Hindle

A quick Google search returns many instances of the saying, “A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.” The doubt implied by this saying extends to manufacturing plants: If you measure a product on two (supposedly identical) devices, and one measurement is in specification and the other out of specification, which is right?

The aforementioned doubt also extends to healthcare, where measurement data abound. As part of the management of asthma, I measure my peak expiratory flow rate (discussed below), and I now have two handheld peak flow meter devices. Are the two devices similar or dissimilar? How would I know? To see how I investigated this, and to see the outcome, read on. A postscript is included for those wanting to dig a bit deeper.


In 2015, I was diagnosed with asthma, a chronic condition where the airways in the lungs can narrow and swell, making breathing more difficult. The worst of it occurred at my in-laws, where I experienced wheezing and had difficulty breathing. The cause? The family cat!

Silke von Gemmingen’s picture

By: Silke von Gemmingen

Spacecraft are developed on Earth, tested, fully assembled, and transported in one piece by a launch vehicle to their respective places of operation. Each component must be designed to withstand the high loads of the launch phase. In most cases, in addition to complex test procedures, this leads to oversized spacecraft components, even though they experience only a fraction of the stresses in orbit than they do during launch.

The maximum take-off mass required for transport with the launch vehicle and the payload thus cause high space-transport costs. At the same time, space in the rocket is restricted, which limits the design of the spacecraft from the outset. The search is on for processes that expand the possibilities of future space missions, save resources, and reduce costs.

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