Content By MIT News

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Classically, negotiations are thought to be about playing one’s hand well at the bargaining table: The right combination of resolve, nerve, and polish can get you what you want.

But a new book from an MIT professor brings a different message: It’s what happens both before and after parties meet at the bargaining table that makes a negotiation successful.

“It’s not just about a person being smart or tough,” says Lawrence Susskind, a leading expert on negotiating practices.

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Plastic is becoming a major problem worldwide: In 2012, the United States alone produced roughly 32 million tons of plastic waste, while recycling only about 9 percent of its plastic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Designer and architect Skylar Tibbits was constructing a massive museum installation with thousands of pieces when he had an epiphany. “Imagine yourself facing months on end assembling this thing, thinking there’s got to be a better way,” he says. “With all this information that was used to design the structure and communicate with fabrication machines, there’s got to be a way these parts can build themselves.” And there is.

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According to a 2013 United Nations report 2 to 5 percent of all international trade involves counterfeit goods. These illicit products—which include electronics, automotive and aircraft parts, pharmaceuticals, and food—can pose safety risks and cost governments and private companies hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

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With the advent of “inherently safe” robots, industrial designers are changing their ideas about the factory of the future. Robots such as ABB's Frida and the Baxter robot from MIT spinoff Rethink Robotics are working “elbow to elbow with people,” says Julie Shah, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of the MIT Interactive Robotics Group.

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Searching for a job is tough, and the hiring process in the United States makes matters far tougher and more emotionally fraught than it needs to be. That is the central assertion of MIT’s Ofer Sharone in a new book based on his in-depth study of U.S. and Israeli white-collar labor markets, which operate very differently.

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MIT engineers have devised a way to measure the mass of particles with a resolution better than an attogram—one millionth of a trillionth of a gram. Weighing these tiny particles, including both synthetic nanoparticles and biological components of cells, could help researchers better understand their composition and function.

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Finding the most efficient way to transport items across a network like the U.S. highway system or the Internet is a problem that has taxed mathematicians and computer scientists for decades.

To tackle the problem, researchers have traditionally used a maximum-flow algorithm, also known as “max flow,” in which a network is represented as a graph with a series of nodes, known as vertices, and connecting lines between them, called edges.

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A new MIT study on supply-chain risk shows no correlation between the total amount a manufacturer spends with a supplier and the profit loss it would incur if that supply were suddenly interrupted. This counterintuitive finding defies a basic business tenet that equates the greatest supply-chain risk with suppliers of highest annual expenditure.

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X-rays transformed medicine a century ago by providing a noninvasive way to detect internal structures in the body. Still, they have limitations: They can’t image the body’s soft tissues, except with the use of contrast-enhancing agents that must be swallowed or injected, and their resolution is limited.