The secrets to our universe might lie in this abandoned coal mine in South Dakota

In an abandoned gold mine close to Deadwood, South Dakota, construction has started on what is arguably the world’s largest science experiment. I’m part of an international team of around 1,000 scientists assembled to design and run this project – the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) – in order to study the most abundant yet elusive matter particle in the universe.
In doing so, we may move a step closer to understanding the origins of matter and to completing science’s model of how the universe works...
Particle physicists like me are fascinated by neutrinos because of their unusual properties, which may be directly linked to phenomena that could explain the structure of the universe. Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles that can’t be broken down into anything else. They are everywhere but are enormously difficult to catch as they have very nearly no mass, are not charged and rarely interact with other particles.
About 100 billion of them travel through our fingertips every second but almost all of them go through the Earth without leaving any trace. Most of these neutrinos originate from nuclear reactions powering the sun. Neutrinos also come from cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere, or exploding stars. They were also abundantly produced just after the birth of the universe...

The Media Needs To Stop Rationalizing President Trump’s Behavior

...It’s much harder to describe some of Trump’s other outbursts — like those against the Khan family or Judge Curiel, for example — as representing a calculated political strategy. The same goes for Trump’s tweetstorm on Saturday morning about San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who had criticized the White House’s response to Hurricane Maria.
No matter how cynical one is, it’s hard to see what possible political benefit Trump could get from criticizing Cruz, whose city was devastated by Maria and remains largely without power and otherwise in crisis. Nor is the government’s response to Maria necessarily something that Trump wants to draw a lot of attention to. I’ve seen debates back and forth in the media over the past week about whether Trump’s response to Maria is analogous to the one former President George W. Bush had to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Trump’s dismissiveness toward Cruz almost certainly won’t help his side of the argument; instead, it will amplify growing criticism about how the government handled Puerto Rico and why Trump seemed to be more interested in the NFL protests than in his administration’s hurricane recovery plan.
I’m happy to acknowledge that Trump’s responses to the news are sometimes thought-out and deliberate. His criticisms of the media often seem to fall into this category, for example, since they’re sure to get widespread coverage and Republican voters have overwhelmingly lost faith in the media.
But at many other times, journalists come up with overly convoluted explanations for Trump’s behavior (“this seemingly self-destructive emotional outburst is actually a clever political strategy!”) when simpler ones will suffice (“this is a self-destructive emotional outburst.”). In doing so, they violate both Ockham’s razor1 and Hanlon’s razor — the latter of which can be stated as “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” One can understand why journalists who rely on having close access to Trump avoid explanations that portray Trump as being irrational, incompetent or bigoted. But sometimes they’re the only explanations that make sense.

Eric Reid: Why Colin Kaepernick and I Decided to Take a Knee

It was intended as a sign of respect and patriotism:

I approached Colin the Saturday before our next game to discuss how I could get involved with the cause but also how we could make a more powerful and positive impact on the social justice movement. We spoke at length about many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system. We also discussed how we could use our platform, provided to us by being professional athletes in the N.F.L., to speak for those who are voiceless.
After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.
It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.

After Hurricane Maria, what will it take to turn Puerto Rico's power back on?

Horrifying. It sounds like we need to step up and be extra creative with disaster relief:

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million American citizens remain almost entirely without electrical power — but it’s not because their power plants are blown. The problem is that roughly 80 percent of transmission lines, which take power from the plants to distribution centers, are down. Nearly all the local power lines that run to residences and businesses have likely also been destroyed.
The damage is so severe that simply repairing the electrical grid may not be an option. “We really should think in terms of rebuilding at this point,” says Ken Buell, director of Emergency Response and Recovery with the US Department of Energy...
...
The airport is running on a generator and is open for daytime operations at the moment, but the radar systems are still down, Buell says. Planes cannot leave the mainland until they have a guaranteed spot on the tarmac at the San Juan Airport, which at one point created an 11-hour delay to land and unload supplies. “So there’s this huge backlog of getting stuff onto the island that you wouldn’t see typically with a storm that’s on the mainland.”

The Media Has A Probability Problem

The human race is getting pretty good at dealing with extremely complex phenomena, like weather and politics. At least, the few who study those seriously.

The major media, whom most people turn to for a quick overview of what's going on, though? Not so much. We'll get there some day, but not without vastly different economic incentives. If you want to understand the difference between the (somewhat left of center) mainstream media "narrative", and the final election results, read this essay.

...But the episode was emblematic of some of the media’s worst habits when covering hurricanes — and other events that involve interpreting probabilistic forecasts. Before a storm hits, the media demands impossible precision from forecasters, ignoring the uncertainties in the forecast and overhyping certain scenarios (e.g., the storm hitting Miami) at the expense of other, almost-as-likely ones (e.g., the storm hitting Marco Island). Afterward, it casts aspersions on the forecasts unless they happened to exactly match the scenario the media hyped up the most.
...In fact, the Irma forecasts were pretty darn good: Meteorologists correctly anticipated days in advance that the storm would take a sharp right turn at some point while passing by Cuba. The places where Irma made landfall — in the Caribbean and then in Florida — were consistently within the cone of uncertainty...
...
You won’t be surprised to learn that I see a lot of similarities between hurricane forecasting and election forecasting — and between the media’s coverage of Irma and its coverage of the 2016 campaign...
By Election Day, Clinton simply wasn’t all that much of a favorite; she had about a 70 percent chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, as compared to 30 percent for Trump. Even a 2- or 3-point polling error in Trump’s favor — about as much as polls had missed on average, historically — would likely be enough to tip the Electoral College to him. While many things about the 2016 election were surprising, the fact that Trump narrowly won1 when polls had him narrowly trailing was an utterly routine and unremarkable occurrence. The outcome was well within the “cone of uncertainty,” so to speak.
So if the polls called for caution rather than confidence, why was the media so sure that Clinton would win?...

Advertising Trade Groups Object to Safari’s New Intelligent Tracking Protection

This is like a group of peeping Toms objecting to the invention of window shades. What ad trackers do is abhorrent, and what Safari’s new Intelligent Tracking Protection does is indisputably in the interests of users.
...
"Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the Internet. The new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature detects and eliminates cookies and other data used for this cross-site tracking, which means it helps keep a person’s browsing private. The feature does not block ads or interfere with legitimate tracking on the sites that people actually click on and visit."

U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds

From a year ago:

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.
...
Congress set a September 30, 2017 deadline for the department to be prepared to undergo an audit. The Army accounting problems raise doubts about whether it can meet the deadline – a black mark for Defense, as every other federal agency undergoes an audit annually. 
For years, the Inspector General – the Defense Department’s official auditor – has inserted a disclaimer on all military annual reports. The accounting is so unreliable that “the basic financial statements may have undetected misstatements that are both material and pervasive.”

Yet we're perennially asked to grant the Defense Department more money (and we already spend about as much as the rest of the world--combined!--on our military). Where does it go?