Rachel Becker, CALmatters

Rachel Becker


California, United States

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  • Unknown
  • CALmatters
  • The Verge
  • National Geographic
  • Hakai Magazine
  • PBS

Past articles by Rachel:

Has California’s landmark law cleaned communities’ dirty air?

A California law was meant to improve air quality in 15 communities. After 4 years and $1 billion, it’s impossible to say if it's worked. → Read More

Tracking California's water in drought

Stay informed on critical water issues using our data dashboard. → Read More

California’s pollution enforcers would like to save tropical forests. But at what cost?

California’s decision on a controversial playbook for investing in tropical forest conservation will have global stakes. → Read More

Why century-old ship logs are key to today’s climate research

Knowing what the weather was up to in the past can help scientists calibrate climate models like the ones they use to predict how weather conditions are likely to change as global temperatures continue to rise. Ship logs are a treasure trove of historical weather data, and a project called Southern Weather Discovery is asking for the public’s help transcribing them. → Read More

New York state is allowing early vaccination for infants to combat measles outbreaks

As the number of measles cases in the United States has surged, some officials are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated sooner rather than later in an effort to keep some of the youngest and most vulnerable members of those communities safe. → Read More

The National Academy of Sciences moves toward ejecting sexual harassers

The National Academy of Sciences took a major step today to oust sexual harassers when members at its annual meeting voted to approve a new amendment that would allow the organization to kick out people who badly violate its new code of conduct. → Read More

Why Big Tobacco and Big Vape love comparing nicotine to caffeine

It feels intuitive to compare caffeine and nicotine, two drugs made by plants that can produce a bit of a buzz. But intuition isn’t the only thing at the root of that sticky association: a concerted public relations effort by Big Tobacco has helped. → Read More

The WHO’s new screen time limits aren’t really about screens

Much has been made of the World Health Organization’s new recommendations that caregivers restrict the amount of time young kids stare at screens. But the guidelines are less about the risks of screen time itself, and more about the advantages of spending time doing pretty much anything else. → Read More

2019 has seen the most measles cases in 20 years, CDC says

The CDC just announced that measles has hit a major milestone as it spreads across the country, infecting the most people since the year 2000 when public health officials declared the virus eliminated in the US. The case count has climbed to 695 people infected, driven in part by outbreaks in New York and Washington. → Read More

That mental health app might share your data without telling you

Free apps marketed to people with depression or who want to quit smoking are hemorrhaging user data to third parties like Facebook and Google — but often don’t admit it in their privacy policies, new research says. The study is the latest to highlight the potential risks of entrusting sensitive health information to our phones. → Read More

Why Juul and Republican lawmakers want to raise the minimum vaping age

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing a new bill that would block all tobacco and vape purchases for Americans under 21 years old, according to an announcement today that was first reported by Bloomberg. → Read More

How big data for DNA puts you at risk — even if you’ve never taken a test

The rise of direct-to-consumer DNA tests comes with a host of thorny problems, including how to interpret the data and major questions about genetic privacy. Even if you decide not to spit in a tube, if your relative does, then your genetic privacy might already be compromised. → Read More

Why NASA wants you to point your smartphone at trees

NASA would like you to take a picture of a tree, please. The space agency’s ICESat-2 satellite estimates the height of trees from space, and NASA has created a new tool for citizen scientists to help confirm those measurements from the ground. All it takes is a smartphone, the app, an optional tape measure, and a tree. → Read More

Getting Scott Kelly’s blood back to Earth was a logistical nightmare

Rocket explosions, time-sensitive blood draws, and ultrasound tutorials in the dead of night — the science behind the scenes of the NASA’s Twins Study released today was almost more exciting than the results it contained. The study looked at differences between identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, surrounding the year that Scott Kelly spent on the International Space Station. → Read More

Scott Kelly’s year in space highlights risks to DNA and brains

After years of processing data, the official release of a study comparing twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly is finally here. One clear trend emerged in the findings, which were published in the journal Science: a year in space changed Scott Kelly’s body, but many of those changes were only temporary and vanished after time back on the ground. → Read More

Watch glaciers crumble in this frightening immersive mixed reality clip

The Weather Channel’s latest mixed reality segment connects the flooding of tomorrow to the melting glaciers and sea level rise of today. It marks a slight deviation from its ongoing campaign to put its meteorologists in the middle of virtual but hyperrealistic extreme weather events. And it’s the first to make climate change the star. → Read More

A nuclear missile gets dismantled in this new stop-motion video

In a surprisingly cheerful stop-motion animation, two disembodied hands dismantle a model of a Minuteman III missile, a weapon that — if launched — could send a nuclear warhead across the world. The hands pull it apart, burn the fuel and explosives, and safely dispose of the nuclear warhead. “So now you know,” the narrator says. “We can do this.” → Read More

What brain-bending magic tricks can teach us about the mind

Gustav Kuhn, a magician turned psychology researcher at Goldsmiths, University London, explores what the science of magic tricks and illusions can teach us about the brain in his new book Experiencing the Impossible: The Science of Magic. → Read More

E-cigarette users are reporting seizures to the FDA

The Food and Drug Administration just issued a special announcement about a new health risk that they worry may be linked to e-cigarettes: seizures. → Read More

Birding gets new life in this YouTube nature series

Jason Ward brings a glimpse of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it world of birding to YouTube in the new video series, Birds of North America. The series follows Ward as he tracks birds through New York’s Central Park, discusses bird-themed tattoos, and studies the preserved remains of extinct birds at the American Museum of Natural History. → Read More