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It starts with starting over, and that’s the worst part. I haven’t played No Man’s Sky ($60 on Humble, on sale for $30 this week) in quite a while now, and memory is fleeting. I tried loading up my latest save and…nothing. A generic planet, some garbage in my inventory, no handle on the controls, and no idea what to do next. So I jettisoned that poor explorer into space and started fresh.Fifth time’s the charm
Adding difficulty levels is the best decision No Man’s Sky made. I mention it early because I think it might lure in some of the people who bounced off the first time. Arriving about six months after the initial release, Creative Mode ditched all the grinding, the resource collection and management, and let you focus on exploration and base-building. If you just want to casually tool around the universe, build some bases, and look at bear-dinosaur-bird creatures, choose Creative. I can’t emphasize it enough.
IDG / Hayden Dingman
Not that it’s without problems. Like any low-risk game mode, motivation becomes an intrinsic thing. Stripped of its various timers, the repetition sets in. Take off, land, look around, take off, land, look around.
And there’s still not much to see. That’s, I think, No Man’s Sky’s biggest failing. Even all these years later, the limits of its procedurally generated universe are still so abundantly clear. Within three hours I’d visited five planets and seen the same tentacle-plant on four of them, named differently each time but quite clearly the same art asset. Ditto for the weird ground-cover mushrooms on every semi-barren planet.
The randomly populated buildings are even worse, which is strange given the whole base-building aspect. You’d think No Man’s Sky would scatter some pre-generated bases or whatever across the planet—but no. All I’ve found so far are the same pseudo-industrial structures from before, usually with one borderline-useless point of interest inside. Loot, and move on.
IDG / Hayden Dingman
I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing, or even surprising—not by now, at least. If you’re still somehow hoping for that “Wow” moment though, exploring this “limitless” universe, I don’t think you’ll find it. A couple of the planets are prettier than others, and there are still some strange and delightful oddities to uncover, but it very much feels like returning to No Man’s Sky in that respect.
That’s top-layer though. It feels like everything has been rebuilt.
IDG / Hayden Dingman
It’s a lot more to remember, and adds some significant busywork to even the simplest tasks. But honestly the busywork is a lot more enjoyable than the mindless grind of No Man’s Sky at launch, where “more difficult to make” usually just meant “larger and larger amounts of the same stuff.”
IDG / Hayden Dingman
Pop into Creative Mode though and it’s impressive what you can build. There’s menu after menu after menu of items to go through, each ready to be recolored and placed in your new home. Rooms, decorations, it’s all there.
There’s plenty of utility items too, which will be great news for those who haven’t gone back since launch: Save points, homing beacons, health regenerators, teleporters that let you fast travel base-to-base or even just base-to-that-cliff-you-liked-a-lot.
Me? In the two years since No Man’s Sky launched, I’d had quite enough of base-building I think. Those with the motivation to build their own little house on the Acid-Rain Prairie should have a good time with it though.
IDG / Hayden DingmanBottom line
Maybe that’s enough though. I don’t know. Is this the game people were hyped about in 2024? It feels closer, at least—much closer. If you bought it and it’s been languishing in your Steam account ever since, I think Next is a great excuse to go back, give it a second shot, and see the progress that’s been made.
Regardless, it’s proof of the power of the new games-as-a-service mindset. A decade ago, No Man’s Sky ($60 on Humble, on sale for $30 this week) would’ve flopped and…that’s it. Forever a bad game. In 2023, though? It’s more of a cautionary tale, about a studio that let its ambitions get ahead of its capabilities—but one with a happy (or at least happier) ending.
You're reading No Man’s Sky’s Huge ‘Next’ Update Is Much Closer To The Game’s Universe
The proton is a persistent thing. The first one crystallized out of the universe’s chaotic froth just 0.00001 of a second after the big bang, when existence was squeezed into a space about the size of the solar system. The rest quickly followed. Protons for the most part have survived unchanged through the intervening 13.8 billion years—joining with electrons to make hydrogen gas, fusing in stars to form the heavier elements, but all the while remaining protons. And they will continue to remain protons for billions of years to come. All, that is, except the unlucky few that wait in a tank of hydrogen gas 300 feet beneath the small Swiss town of Meyrin, a few miles north of the Geneva airport. Those—those are in trouble.
By the time you read this, a strong electric field will have begun to strip the electrons away from the protons in that hydrogen gas. Radio waves will push the protons, naked and charged, forward, accelerating them through the first of what can reasonably be called the most impressive series of tubes in the known universe (Internet be damned, Senator Stevens). The tubes in this Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have one purpose: Pump ever more energy into these protons, push them hard against Einstein’s insurmountable cosmic speed limit
And then, the sudden stop. Head-on, a single proton will meet a single proton in the center of a cage of 27 million pounds of silicon and superconducting coils of niobium and titanium. And it will cease to be. These protons will collide with such tremendous energy, so much focused power, that they will transmute. They will metamorphose into muons and neutrinos and photons. All of that, for our purposes, is junk. But about once in a trillion collisions—no one knows for sure—they should turn into something we have never before observed. These protons, these nanoscopic specks of matter that together bear the energy of a high-speed train, will reach out into the hypothetical and bring a little bit of it back.
We have some good guesses about what they will become. They could turn into a missing particle called the Higgs boson—thus completing, through actual observation, the Standard Model of the universe, which describes everything yet known. Or they might vanish into dark matter, and so satisfy the demands of the astronomers who have for decades observed that the universe is suffused with mass of unknown origin and composition. Or—and this is what everyone is really hoping for—these transmuting protons will defy our imagination. They will show us the unexpected, the unanticipated, the (temporarily) unintelligible. The humble proton, just maybe, will surprise us.
Blank Fate: Think of the 15-million-pound Atlas detector as a giant camera that can take pictures of dark matterDown the Rabbit Hole
Access granted. We wait at the elevator with stocky contractors in T-shirts and dirty work pants—murmurs in Polish and French, wary looks at the reporter’s notepad, the red hard hat reserved for visitors—then climb in, and hit the button for floor –1. We are going to Atlas. The detector. The center. The collective work of tens of thousands of physicist-years, which is still, it quickly becomes apparent as we emerge through the concrete corridor and hear the first sharp pings of hammers on steel that echo throughout the chamber, not quite finished.
Though it’s often compared to the interior of Notre Dame cathedral, the chamber looks less like a gothic sanctuary than it does the phaser room on the Starship Enterprise. There’s an 80-foot high, 15-million-pound rolling pin of silicon and steel parked in the center, and it looks ready to fire. Except down here, the firing happens in reverse. In a month, once liquid helium cools the magnets down to 1.9 degrees Kelvin above absolute zero (that’s –456°F), beams of near-light-speed protons will race not out, but in, meeting in the detector’s center. (There is another equally sensitive detector, CMS, five miles away across the French countryside. The two groups will double-check each other’s work and provide a bit of friendly rivalry as to who can discover what first.) The collision will concentrate all that speeding energy in an infinitesimally small space. And then that ball of pure energy will become something else entirely. “By Einstein’s
E = m2
, you can make particles whose mass is less than the amount of energy you have available,” says Martinus Veltman, a physics professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and a Nobel laureate. Energy becomes mass. This, in a nutshell, is why the protons need to go so fast—with more energy, the LHC can summon ever-heavier particles out of the ether. And the heavier particles are the interesting ones. The heavy ones are new.
Light Reading: Astronomers can make dark matter by tracking how it distorts the light from distant galaxiesDarkness Doubles Down
Here’s what we know about what the universe is made of: We have the ordinary, common matter, like protons and electrons. In addition, there’s all the stuff that transmits a force, like photons of light, or gravitons, which pull heavy objects together. That’s the universe—matter and force—and physicists have spent the past 60 years or so uncovering the details of how all the matter particles and the force particles interact. The totality of that work is called the Standard Model of particle physics, and any particle physicist will tell you that it is the most successful theory in the history of human existence, powerful enough to predict the results of experiments down to one part in a trillion.
And yet the Standard Model is almost certainly not the whole picture. While particle physicists have been busy constructing the Standard Model, astronomers and cosmologists have been working on another task, a giant cosmic accounting project. What they see—or, more precisely, don’t—is a clear sign that there are far more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by the Ph.D.s.
If you go out and count up all the stars and galaxies and supernovae and the like, you should get an estimate of how much total mass there is in the universe. But if you estimate the mass another way—say, by looking at how quickly galaxies rotate (the more mass in a galaxy, the faster it spins) or by noting how galaxies clump together in large groups—you will conclude that the universe has much more mass than we can see. About five times as much, by the latest reckoning. Since it can’t be seen, we call it dark matter.
Here’s the problem: These unknown dark-matter particles—there’s no column in the Standard Model for them. Another problem is that not even the people who came up with it think the Standard Model is the whole story. “The theory raises so many new questions,” says David Gross, who won a Nobel Prize in 2004 for his work on the Standard Model, “that we are convinced it must be incomplete in some way.” Sure, the model correctly predicts the outcome of experiments. But it is not, in the deep way that physicists want it to be, pretty.
To make the Standard Model work, there needs to be much fine-tuning, a dirty word to physicists because it implies arbitrarily tweaking lots of little variables in order to make everything come out right. Much better, physicists would argue, to have everything balance out naturally. As Dan Hooper, a physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, concludes in his new book Nature’s Blueprint, “The Standard Model as we understand it is ultimately unstable and is in desperate need of a new mechanism to prevent it from falling apart.”
Enter supersymmetry, one helluva “mechanism.” Supersymmetry posits that every particle is only half the story—that every particle has a hidden twin. Remember how the universe is split into matter and force? The core idea of supersymmetry is that every matter particle has a twin force-carrying particle. Same goes the other way: Every force particle has a twin made of matter. Matter and force, in one sense, are just two manifestations of the same thing.
How does this work in practice? Electrons give rise to selectrons (as in, supersymmetric electrons), and photons beget photinos (don’t ask). The extra particles, each heavier than its twin, automatically balance out the Standard Model, no fine-tuning needed. But perhaps more important, these particles, were they to exist, could very well be the hitherto invisible dark matter. The universe swarms with squarks, winos and neutralinos, and these supersymmetric particles are just heavy enough and just common enough to outweigh the “normal” stuff by a factor of five to one. Cosmology, meet particle physics.
Of course, for this to make any sense, the LHC first needs to find a supersymmetric particle. And here’s the catch: Even if the LHC makes a supersymmetric particle—two protons come together with enough energy to make, say, a neutralino—that particle will still be invisible. It will pass through the walls of the detector and down into Earth’s crust and back out into space. Invisible means it doesn’t interact with ordinary matter, and ordinary matter is the only thing we can build detectors out of.
So what happens? How can we tell? Well, we look very closely. When two protons come together, they will generate a shower of particles. Most of them will be ordinary particles, and the detectors will catch these. Then the scientists will look for what’s missing. “It’s a bit like the Sherlock Holmes story where the most important clue is the dog that doesn’t bark,” says John Ellis, a theorist at CERN. If lots of stuff comes out going one way, there has to be an equal amount of stuff going the other way—it’s just the law of conservation of momentum. Count up what you have, subtract that from what you started with, and voilà, you could find yourself with a fleeting glimpse of dark matter. Or at least, its absence.
Vintage Store: The quickest, cheapest, most reliable way to store all that data? Tape drives, same as in the 1970sThe Data Junkies
Back in the cavern that holds Atlas, physicist/tour guide Steve Goldfarb stands on a gantry 50 feet above the floor and traces in the air an imaginary track of an imaginary particle that has just spawned from a collision. “The whole idea of building such a huge detector,” he says, “is to be able to draw a very precise line.” Tellingly, the line he draws curves across the room.
Both Atlas and CMS generate magnetic fields so intense that “if you drove a bus in here and if you turned on the magnetic field, you would crush the bus,” says Phil Harris, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who shows me around CMS the following day. (Graduate students are considered the do-it-all grunt workers of any enormous project like this. Harris’s buddy Pieter Everaerts, another MIT grad student, told me that one of their main jobs was to “go down [into the detector] to look for the blinking lights” that may indicate a faulty connection. Harris, for his part, has spent months building a database to keep track of the thousands of cables that carry data up and out of the machine. The LHC: where America’s best and brightest go to label cables.)
Bus-crushing, despite its indisputable awesomeness, is not on the agenda here. Rather, the point of all these superconducting magnets is to make everything curve. When the two protons collide, the shower of debris they create will not, unlike the cables in the detector, come with labels. Harris and Everaerts and the 2,000 other scientists who work on CMS have to figure out what each particle is. Since a magnetic field bends the path of a charged particle, you can measure how much each particle curves and how fast it’s going and deduce its charge and mass. “We need to understand everything,” Harris explains. “Where it was, how much momentum, how much energy.” And do it over and over, for the hundreds of particles that burst from every collision, 600 million times a second.
This, in turn, presents a slight problem with data overload. “We’ll produce about a World Wide Web’s worth of data every day,” says Harris, an excitable 25-year-old who wears his hard hat backward and his pants a good six to eight inches below his waist. Everaerts turns his eyes up, clearly checking the math behind Harris’s boast in his head. “Yes,” he solemnly intones, “though the Web is growing very fast.”
It’s one thing to undertake a massive (but finite) civil-engineering project like the LHC in the space of a decade. It’s quite another to build a new Google every day. “There’s no way that CERN can provide all the computing components,” says Ian Bird, the leader of the LHC Computing Grid. Instead, scientists figured out two ways to get rid of all the excess data.
Fortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), most of the data the machines collect will be junk. Old news, particles long discovered, phenomena well-explored. Electronics in the detector throw out any collisions that don’t look interesting, which totals about 99.99997 percent of the raw data.
The remaining 200 collisions per second move upstairs to the main computing center, a warehouse with row after row of rack-mounted computers. This is “Tier 0,” in LHC parlance. From here, dedicated fiber-optic cables send a copy of the data to 11 computing centers worldwide, the so-called Tier 1. (The cables comprise the famous “Internet2” you may have heard about a few years ago—all it means is that the scientists get to use these lines, not you.) The Tier 1 computers then calibrate the data and distribute it to hundreds of Tier 2 computing centers. These are individual server farms, the 100,000 PCs spread among universities like Cambridge and Berkeley and Osaka. This is where the eureka moments will happen. By using a distributed system, the collisions underneath a French village can branch out all over the planet to be pored over by 10,000 brains. It is through this structure, just as much as through the magnets or the silicon, that the impossible will be made real.
Model Student: Inside the office of John Ellis, theoretical physicist at CERN. “SUSY” is short for supersymmetryKnow It All
The history of science is one of hubris. We think we have the natural world pretty much figured out, we think that our theories are pretty darn solid—and then someone does an innocent little experiment, and much to everyone’s surprise, reveals the unfathomable. Never have scientists so self-consciously courted the unknown as they are doing with the LHC. No one thinks the Standard Model will end up being the whole story of the universe, despite its innumerable successes in explaining the world. Physicists know there is more out there, just beyond our reach. “I think of things for the experiments to look for,” says John Ellis, “and hope they find something different.”
“I think we all want to know where we came from and how we fit into the world,” says George Smoot, a cosmologist at the University of California at Berkeley and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics, “but some of us need to know how it all works in great detail.” The 14 years, $10 billion and 10,000 people it took to build the LHC may be taken as simple measures of human curiosity, of how much we’re willing to give to explore where we came from and how we fit into the world. You might wonder why it matters whether supersymmetry is true or not, why it’s important that we find the dark matter. But understanding the universe is power. “Knowing the laws of physics, you know what can be done and what can’t be done,” says Nobel laureate Gerardus ‘t Hooft. “Knowing the laws of physics lets you see the future.”
Measuring the God Particle
The electromagnetic and hadron calorimeters that make up the center of the 49-foot-high, 69-foot-long CMS instrument.
How Heavy is “Heavy”?
The LHC beauty (LHCb) experiment is designed to explain why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe. To do that, LHCb looks at bottom-quarks—superheavy particles four times the mass of a proton—thrown off in proton collisions. The calorimeter [at right] measures the energy of particles escaping from the collision, which helps determine their identity.
Where the Magic Happens
Located between 160 and 500 feet underground, a 16.57-mile-long chain of magnets guides the proton beams to the four experiment stations. The tunnel was originally dug for an older accelerator called the LEP, which was dismantled by 2001 to make room for the more powerful LHC.
Follow that Particle
Another component of the LHCb experiment is the tracking system. The inner tracker uses a silicon strip to detect particles, while the outer tracker uses tubes of gas. Together, they monitor the paths of the particles as they fly out of the proton crashes. By combining data about the particle velocity along those paths with the energy data from the calorimeter, the researchers can determine the mass and identity of particles flying out of the accelerator.
Into the Physics Cave
The LHC’s six experiments are located deep beneath the Earth’s surface and insulated from a world rife with radioactive interference, making it no easy feat to load all of the enormous equipment into place. The components for each experiment were lowered hundreds of feet below ground through giant tunnels like this one.
Behind the Scenes WIth the Photographer
During his three-day shoot, New York–based photographer Enrico Sacchetti observed more than just the LHC. He was also witness to the international community of scientists that walk the halls of the largest experiment in human history. “They feel like they’re on a quest for mankind,” he says. From the nights out in Geneva to the cliques in the cafeteria, the researchers from around the world gather by project, each group pursuing their research with a sense of competition usually reserved for the football field. See all of PopSci‘s coverage of the Large Hadron Collider at chúng tôi
Teachers can use clips from the movie Turning Red to explore with students the ways adolescence changes the brain.
In the Disney Pixar film Turning Red, we are introduced to a Chinese Canadian family and their deep love and loyalty to one another. Meilin, the main character, is a 13-year-old girl trying to establish adolescent independence and autonomy, while her mother is continually overprotective and hypervigilant, worrying about Meilin’s whereabouts, interests, and friends.
We are also introduced to Meilin’s best friends, who are empathetic and encouraging as she experiences huge emotions throughout the film. We see Meilin and her friends begin to transition from childhood into adolescence with numerous complications that many young people encounter during the early teen years but may not acknowledge or recognize during this significant time of brain development.
The Adolescent Brain
As educators, we are observing these middle school years up close, experiencing the often-chaotic emotional early-teen roller coaster that this second-greatest time of brain development ushers in. The brain is growing tremendously and pruning away connections between neurons as it prepares for efficiency and specialization in young adulthood.
During adolescence, there are also significant changes in the secretion and baseline levels of neurohormones. The adolescent brain contains lower levels of serotonin, which can contribute to increased aggression, along with higher levels of testosterone, which can also lead to angry outbursts and impulsive behavior. The baseline for dopamine, our feel-good/motivation neurotransmitter, is also lower, so more dopamine is required for a satisfying result.
Additionally, we know that the frontal lobes of the adolescent brain are still developing, and this is where our executive functions (problem-solving, logical decision-making, emotional regulation, and sustained attention) live, so that we need opportunities and practice filled with repetition to develop these skills.
If we are to engage this age group for learning, we need to meet them where they are with practices and discussion questions that are a part of our procedures and routines.
The adolescents’ jobs are to question authority and search for an identity that can connect with a sense of safe belonging and acceptance. Our nervous systems require feelings of safety and felt connection. As young people grow into these new roles and responsibilities mandated by their brain development, we need to understand how to cultivate these practices at the beginning or end of a day or class period.
The social loss we have seen in our students this past year from pandemic unpredictability and isolation is directly impacting the cognitive losses we are facing in our schools. We must address the feelings and sensations our students are carrying into our classrooms and schools because these impact academic and cognitive well-being.
Achieving Emotional Regulation
As we learn to recognize our own felt sensations, we can begin to acknowledge when they feel overwhelming. Emotional regulation does not just happen or develop without the experiences of another who can sit beside us and share their calm. Co-regulation is our biological priority, as the brain is a social organ, and we cannot survive without each other.
When a continuous stream of negative emotions hijack or override our frontal lobes, our brain’s architecture changes, leaving us in a heightened stress-response state where fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, and sadness take over our thinking, logical brains. Below are practices and prompts that provide rich discussion and outlets for our students to share how they are experiencing a situation.
It takes a calm adult to calm a child, and it’s extremely important that educators be in touch with our huge emotions. In a grade level or school, these questions provide a deepened understanding of how we can unintentionally escalate our students’ behavior with our huge emotions.
Questions for educators
1. What types of huge emotions are we carrying into our schools each day?
2. Do we have practices that feel regulating to our nervous systems so that we are not activated or triggered by the dysregulation seen in the student behaviors that push our buttons?
3. What types of huge emotions do we experience from our students in our classrooms?
4. How can we create awareness and check-ins of those emotions that serve us well and those huge emotions that can be disruptive?
5. Are we teaching our students about their neuroanatomy so that they understand why they feel the way they do?
Practices and questions for students
Who I Am. With art materials (papers, markers, yarn, scraps of material, pipe cleaners, etc.), we begin the day or class period creating the huge emotions we carry as a part of our identity. What are our huge emotions? Huge emotions can also be quiet or lonely emotions. They don’t have to be exploding with anger, but could be sadness, anxiety, depression, or loneliness.
What Is Your Panda? As you can see in this montage of video clips from Turning Red, the red panda symbolizes huge emotions for Meilin, and when she works to calm those emotions, she feels relaxed. What animal or symbol represents your panda? Can you journal, describe, or draw your panda using colors, lines, or symbols that best describe your animal or object?
Circle Up or Pair Up. We can choose a question a day or a week and begin sharing in small groups or with a partner what causes our huge emotions, how we can begin to calm those, and how our brain responds when we have those huge emotions.
1. What caused a huge emotion in someone you know?
2. There are all types of huge emotions in the video above. What did you notice as you watched it?
3. What part or parts of the brain are firing when we have huge emotions? Can you think of times when you felt so stressed that you were unable to think clearly?
4. Can our brains and nervous systems feel more than one emotion at the same time? Can you provide examples when you felt many emotions at once?
5. Can huge emotions help us? How?
6. What happens to our thinking when huge emotions take over? Can you give an example?
There is no “simple trick” to privacy
As 2023 draws to a close, if the past twelve months – indeed, the past decade – have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t take privacy for granted. While there have been plenty of high-profile hacks, leaks, and data exposed through general mismanagement by companies large and small, the reality is that much of the time our personal information gets distributed not because it’s stolen, but because we don’t take sufficient care with it.
Already we’re looking to close out 2023 with another corporate confession of misappropriated data. Security camera company Wyze is behind the latest mea-culpa in our inbox, admitting that its databases were exposed for a time, and accessed by an unknown third party.
Wyze, though, is by no means the only company that has discovered, to its embarrassment, that its ability to secure the data its customers share is far less impressive than its ability to collect it in the first place. Certainly, the fact that the company is in the security field makes the irony more stinging. Yet far bigger companies than the connected camera and alarm startup have had to come, cap in hand, and tell its users that a screw-up has occurred.
Embarrassment, though, is arguably an insufficient motivator for meaningful change. If there’s one thing companies understand – and quickly – it’s impact that affects their bottom line. There, though, we’re not living up to our end of the bargain.
Take Facebook, for example. Its track record over the past decade when it comes to handling your personal information has been dire, frankly. Investigative attention from regulators has forced it, seemingly grudgingly, to massage its privacy policies and the ways in which it uses our data, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that this is the digital equivalent of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Facebook growth-hacked its way to dominance, for instance, by using the phone number you provided for extra security to encourage more people to add you as their friend. Now it won’t do that any more, which is good, but the damage is already done. And I’m not sure that it would ever have stopped misusing two-factor authentication numbers in that way, had it not suddenly found itself under the microscope for privacy mismanagement.
Companies – and hackers – have already figured out that personal data is arguably the most valuable currency out there today. Adages like “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product” may be commonly quoted, but there’s little indication that we’re taking the sentiment to heart. Sure, there are meaningful barriers like privacy agreements dripping in legalese and a dozen pages long, but even so; it’s tough to argue that most of us are doing our due-diligence.
Today, with likely hundreds of thousands of smart speakers freshly installed in homes across the world after Amazon, Google, and others pushed them so eagerly over the holidays, it’s easy to assume that tapping the microphone-mute button or sliding a camera shutter is enough to secure your privacy. Yet the reality is that, while you could well argue it’s not sensible to bring an always-on microphone into your home, any feeling of wellbeing from knowing that Alexa, the Google Assistant, or whichever other AI isn’t listening to you is outweighed by the rest of the data you’re freely sharing every time you go online.
There are signs that changes are afoot. You may have noticed an uptick in emails landing in your inbox, from companies notifying you that they’ve updated their privacy policies. That’s down to the imminent arrival of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which comes into force on January 1st.
The CCPA won’t change what data companies can collect about you: they’ll still be able to gather up as much as you’ll willingly give them. What it changes, though, is user access to that data. Those in California will be able to find out what personal data a company has saved on them, access it, request it be deleted (with a few security-minded exceptions), and not only discover if it has been sold or disclosed, but deny permission for such a sale.
Though it’ll be the toughest consumer privacy law in the US, it’s still not perfect. The CCPA only covers information shared by the consumer; if a company purchases data, or gathers it from publicly-available sources, the law doesn’t apply. A business needs to be either large (with gross annual revenues above $25 million) or deal significantly with personal information (either buying or selling the data on 50,000 or more consumers or households, or earning more than half its annual revenue from the sale of such information) to be subject to the new rules.
Other limits fall around the repercussions of contravening CCPA. If a company doing business in California is subject to a data breach, and can’t demonstrate it had maintained “reasonable security procedures and practices,” it can be fined and the target of class action lawsuits. However there’s no explicit punishment for companies that sell data even if they’re told by a user not to.
CCPA, in theory, only impacts the state of California. However several big companies are adopting its mandates nationwide – including Microsoft – even as others protest what they claim is a lack of clarity from the law’s authors. Even if rule-breakers persist, it’ll be down to organizations like the office of California’s Attorney General to actually step up and enforce the CCPA’s requirements. It’s unclear whether federal legislators have the appetite to roll out a US-wide version.
And there, again, we come to individual responsibilities, the counterpart to our digital rights. Rules like the CCPA may outline our expectations from the companies we entrust with our digital lives, but all the transparency in the world about privacy policies and access to records are for naught if we don’t actually read them. The CCPA might force disclosure of data being collected, but that’s only useful if we ourselves read that disclosure, and make balanced decisions about who we’ll then share that data with.
In short, there’s no “simple trick” to ensuring privacy and the security of your personal information. Even starting out 2023 by deleting your Facebook account won’t be enough to keep “safe” online. Rules like the CCPA and the proposed Online Privacy Act may end up giving us the tools to control how our information is shared and monetized, but that’s only if we acknowledge that there’s no quick fix to taking care of our most important data.
If you are a Windows 10 or Windows 11 user, you may experience issues with your sound after updating your system. If you are facing this issue, there is no need to worry as this problem can be fixed using the following steps.
The first and most obvious step in resolving the sound issue in Windows 10 and Windows 11 is to check your volume settings. It is possible that your volume is muted or set too low. Check the sound icon in the taskbar and make sure that the volume is turned up to an audible level. If you’re using external speakers or headphones, make sure they’re properly plugged in and powered on.
If the volume is not the issue, it’s time to check your playback settings. In some cases, the Windows update may have incorrectly selected the wrong playback device or disabled your device entirely.
In some cases, the Windows update may have incorrectly selected the wrong playback device or disabled your device entirely. Here’s how to check:
Select Sound. See also: How to Open The Old Advanced Sound Settings in Windows 11.
Go to Playback tab.
All audio playback devices connected to your computer will be listed in the Playback tab, including those in your monitor, graphics card, etc. You have to know which is the correct one that represents the speaker or headphones you want to use. If you don’t know, try to enable them one by one until the sound works.
If the playback devices tab shows “No audio device is installed“, go to the next solution.
Windows 10 and Windows 11 come with a built-in troubleshooter that can help diagnose and fix audio problems automatically. Here’s how to use it:
Go to Start Menu.
Search for “Troubleshoot” and open it.
Under Get up and running, select Playing Audio.
The process may take some time.
When the troubleshooting is completed, restart your computer. Play some music on YouTube to see if the no sound issue is resolved.
If your sound is still not working, it’s possible that your audio driver is outdated, corrupted, or incompatible with the latest Windows update. Here’s how to update your audio driver:
Go to Start menu. Search for device manager and open it.
Expand Sound, video and game controllers.
Select “Update automatically” to allow Windows to automatically find and install the correct audio driver for your device.
If it can’t find a suitable driver, you will need to manually install the driver by selecting it based on its model (usually we will install the Realtek High Definition audio). Check the post here and scroll to the bottom for detailed instructions on how to do it.
These are some of the solutions that can help you fix the no sound issue in Windows 10 and Windows 11. It’s essential to try each solution one by one until you find the one that works for you. It’s also crucial to ensure that your computer’s audio settings are correctly configured to avoid future sound problems.
If none of the solutions mentioned above works, you can try resetting your PC or contacting customer support for further assistance. Keep in mind that resetting your PC will remove all your installed applications and personal files, so make sure to back up your data before proceeding.
It’s one thing to worry about pollutants in our freshwater supply. It’s another to find out that all across the country, male fish swimming in some of that water are becoming “intersex,” their male sex organs producing immature female eggs. Although the condition occurs naturally in some species, it shouldn’t happen to black bass. But a new study shows that it is, and in numbers far greater than ever suspected. The phenomenon raises serious concerns about the pollution levels in our rivers and could threaten several species.
Cattle in feeding pens
The nine-year study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, provides the first nationwide count of intersex fish in American rivers. Overall, 44 percent of the largemouth and smallmouth bass dissected turned out to be intersex, but at some sites 91 percent of the male largemouth bass were affected. Biologist Jo Ellen Hinck’s team found intersex males at 34 of 111 sites in eight of nine major river basins, including the Columbia, the Colorado and the Mississippi. The Southeastern U.S. was hit hardest, with intersex bass at every location sampled along the Apalachicola, Savannah and Pee Dee rivers. “Now we need to figure out why,” says Hinck, the study’s leader.
The discovery raises some tough questions. Scientists don’t know whether the growing number of feminized fish could hinder reproduction enough to disturb the rest of the ecosystem or even drive bass into extinction. Even scarier, the culprit is still unknown. The prime suspect? Our toilets. Previous research indicates that wastewater treatment plants flush endocrine-disruptive compounds (EDCs), including pharmaceuticals, pesticides and hormones, into rivers. Even minuscule amounts of EDCs can trigger powerful hormonal shifts that deform male fishes’ reproductive organs. During a seven-year study, for instance, scientists added parts-per-trillion amounts—the levels emitted by treatment plants—of the synthetic estrogen used in birth-control pills to a closed lake. The resulting sex changes collapsed the entire fish population.
Given that intersex fish were found both upstream and downstream of wastewater treatment plants, some scientists also think agricultural runoff could be the cause. Another USGS biologist, Vicki S. Blazer, has found 100 percent of smallmouth bass to be intersex along parts of the Shenandoah River, where rain washes waste laden with hormones excreted from millions of chickens and cattle into the water. Blazer worries that there’s a connection between the intersex findings and another health crisis among bass: weakened immune systems, suspected of killing 80 percent of the smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah in 2004 and 2005. She notes that the white blood cells that fight disease in the piscine immune system have receptors for hormones, making them susceptible to the same toxins believed to be driving the sex changes. “Intersex is simply another indicator that there’s a problem,” she says.
Hinck is now investigating the mechanisms that could be transforming the fish, but we’re just beginning to learn what this means for those of us with opposable thumbs, many of whom drink water from these rivers. The same compounds can interfere with the human endocrine system, but there are no regulations for controlling hormones in drinking water.
In September, for the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency identified nine hormones as possible contaminants in our water, but it’s much too early for the agency to declare whether they’re dangerous at the trace amounts that have been detected. Mae Wu of the Natural Resources Defense Council is not comforted. “A trace level of one chemical [might not be so bad], but a whole soup of them?” she says. “Hundreds or thousands of different chemicals all at trace levels—we have no idea what that does to humans.” At the very least, we can hope that the thought of drinking water that turns male fish into females will spur us to clean up our rivers.
Spokane’s main waste water treatment plant discharges into the Spokane River, Monday, April 12, 2004 in Spokane, Wash. An environmental group, American Rivers, has identified the river as one of the ten most endangered rivers in the country. Five sewage treatment plants in the area discharge into the river, depleting oxygen content of the water. (AP Photo/Jeff T. Green)
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