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Please Explain

A weekly feature on The Leonard Lopate Show; airs every Friday at noon

In Please Explain, we set aside time every Friday afternoon to get to the bottom of one complex issue. Ever wonder how New York City's water system works? Or how the US became so polarized politically? We'll back up and review the basic facts and principles of complicated issues across a broad range of topics — history, politics, science, you name it.

Recently in Please Explain

How Healthy is a Raw Food Diet?

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's a popular trend in the United States, but there's evidence that the health benefits of many foods can only be unlocked when they're cooked.

Comments [21]

Rice in Culture and Cuisine Around the World

Friday, September 05, 2014

This week's Please Explain is all about rice—from arborio to wehai—how it's grown, prepared, and it's place in culture and cuisine around the globe.

Comments [17]

Alawites to Yazidis: A Guide to Religious Communities in the Middle East

Friday, August 22, 2014

This week's Please Explain is about religious communities in the Middle East—Shia, Sunni, Alawite, Yazidi, and more—and their political conflicts and power struggles.

Comments [22]

How Highways Changed America

Friday, August 15, 2014

Find out how the U.S. highway system was created and how it changed the country by connecting small towns and cities from coast to coast.

Comments [5]

How to Contain and Control the Ebola Outbreak

Friday, August 08, 2014

West Africa is in the midst of the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. For this week's Please Explain, an infectious disease expert talks about where it comes from, how it spreads, and how it can be contained.

Comments [13]

Freeze! Or Can or Pickle!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Learn how to preserve summer fruits, vegetables, and herbs so you can enjoy them all year long.

Comments [7]

What the Sun Does to Your Skin

Friday, July 25, 2014

There really isn’t such a thing as a healthy tan. Here's what's happening to your skin under all that sun — and how to protect yourself.

Comments [33]

How to Grow and Use Herbs

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nurture them, eat them, preserve them, freeze them — you can even use herbs to ward off mosquitoes or slow E. coli. All your herb questions answered, including some you didn't know you had.

Comments [15]

How to Use Airbnb Without Getting Evicted

Friday, July 11, 2014

A look at what's legal and illegal when using Airbnb to rent out a room or your whole apartment. And we hear your gripes about — and praise for — the service.

Comments [24]

How To Learn a Foreign Language

Friday, June 27, 2014

Successful language learning at an older age requires 1) practice, 2) paying attention 3) getting lots of real world input and 4) practice.

Comments [27]

What Does 'Natural' Really Mean?

Friday, June 20, 2014

A food safety expert explains the rules for what food labels can claim— from "fair trade" to "organic"—and how they can often be misleading.

Comments [13]

Please Explain: The Science of Sound

Friday, June 06, 2014

Acoustics, how sound works, and hunting for the world’s strangest sounds.

Comments [3]

It's Not Your Imagination: This Allergy Season Really Is Worse

Friday, May 30, 2014

"Poorly controlled allergies have a negative impact on your love life,” says Dr. Clifford Bassett. And climate change is making it worse.

Comments [27]

Please Explain: The Eye

Friday, May 02, 2014

On this week's Please Explain we'll find out how the human eye works and how it enables us to see the world around us. Dr. George A. Cioffi, Chairman and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of the Department of Ophthalmology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, tells us how to keep our eyes healthy; why our vision changes; and how problems like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration affect our vision.

Comments [36]

I Feel Your Pain: All About Empathy

Friday, April 18, 2014

Psychologist Paul Bloom and Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, explain empathy's role in human psychology, behavior, and relationships—and they look at some of the downsides of empathy.

Comments [18]

The Stuff That Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made Of

Friday, April 11, 2014

On this week's Please Explain, we'll find out what goes on inside our brains as we sleep.

Comments [26]

Every Night I'm Shufflin'

Friday, April 04, 2014

Insomnia, snoring, restless leg syndrome, sleepwalking. A lot of things can prevent us from getting good sleep. Find out what causes sleep disturbances — and how to treat them.

Comments [20]

Please Explain: Arthritis

Friday, March 28, 2014

More than 40 million Americans have arthritis, and it's the leading cause of disability for people who are 65 and older. Almost everyone over 70 has some form of arthritis, but it can affect much younger people too. Dr. Clark Smith, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, explains what causes arthritis and how to treat it.

Comments [29]

Please Explain: Medical Marijuana

Friday, March 21, 2014

Medical marijuana is legal in 20 states, and is used to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis, AIDS, side effects of chemotherapy, as well as pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, insomnia, and anxiety. Dr. Igor Grant, Distinguished Professor and Executive Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine and Director of the UC Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, tells us about his research into the possible utility of cannabis compounds in the amelioration of certain severe manifestations of disease. And Jim Rendon, author of Supercharged: How Outlaws, Hippies, and Scientists Reinvented Marijuana, talks about the changing attitudes toward marijuana and how the increasing acceptance of medical marijuana is changing the legal and commercial landscape.

Comments [18]

Please Explain: Glaciers

Friday, March 14, 2014

During the last ice age, glaciers covered the entire northern part of our continent, shaping mountains and carving valleys. Today, most of the earth's glaciers are found in Antarctica and Greenland, but there are glaciers on every continent, including Africa, most commonly above the snow line. Tim Creyts, a glaciologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Earth Institute, Columbia University, explains what glaciers are, how they move and sculpt the landscape, and how climate change is affecting glaciers around the world.

Comments [6]