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
Friday, June 17, 2011
The old cost-saving measure of clipping pages from the backs of newspapers has been transformed into a multibillion dollar industry by the advent of Groupon, the online group coupon service. Felix Salmon, finance blogging editor at Reuters, and Andrea Woroch of Coupon Sherpa, talk to us about the history of coupons, reveal why they're such a boon to businesses, and dissect Groupon's business model.
Do you clip coupons? Have you used daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social? If so, tell us about your experience!
Friday, June 10, 2011
Bees are disappearing from their hives in mass numbers, and there’s no clear explanation of why. Many believe that bees are a barometer of the health of the planet, and colony collapse disorder is raising questions about pesticides, genetically modified crops, monocultures, and mechanization of beekeeping. Taggart Siegel, director, and Jon Betz, producer, of the documentary “Queen of the Sun” tell us why honeybees are important to human life and agriculture, and the factors that are most likely leading to colony collapse and honeybee death on a grand scale in the United States and in Europe. In addition, they explain how some devoted beekeepers are trying to save them. “Queen of the Sun” opens at Cinema Village June 10.
Friday, June 03, 2011
Aspirin is used to treat everyday aches and pains and has even been shown to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and maybe even some cancers. Alan Arslan, MD, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecolgy and Environmental Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Diarmuid Jeffreys, author of Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug, discuss how aspirin works.
Friday, May 20, 2011
You may have noticed billboards and people handing out pamphlets in the subways claiming that the world will on May 21. Well, since that’s tomorrow, for today’s Please Explain we thought we’d investigate the long history of doomsday predictions. We’re joined by Jesus Rodriguez-Velasco, Professor in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University, who teaches a class called “The End of the World.” John R. Hall, professor of sociology at the University of California Davis, and author of Apocalypse: From Antiquity to the Empire of Modernity. And Doug Weaver, Associate Professor of Religion at Baylor University.
Friday, May 13, 2011
On today's Please Explain, we'll look into the science behind and history of generic drugs. Just how identical are they to their name-brand counterparts? Could they be part of the solution to America's rising health care costs? Are there certain instances when you shouldn't go for the generic option? Joe Graedon, author of The People's Pharmacy, will answer these questions and more.
Friday, April 29, 2011
On today's Please Explain, we'll look into the art of crafting the perfect recipe. Deb Perelman, author of the popular blog SmittenKitchen.com, and John Willoughby, the executive editor of America's Test Kitchen, join us. They'll explain how to best translate home cook's imprecise cooking strategies into publishable recipes, how preparation times are calculated, and examine their favorite examples of recipes both perfect and terrible.
WEIGH IN: What are some of your most poignant recipe disasters? Did you use a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon? Let us know in the comments below!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Leonard hosts his annual Good Friday gospel hour. This year he'll combine it with a bit of Please Explain, and he'll talk about the history and particulars of gospel music.
Friday, April 15, 2011
The hormones estrogen and progestin have been prescribed to women to relieve symptoms of menopause. Studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk of cancer, but earlier this month, a new study showed that among some women, it can reduce the risk of breast cancer and heart attack. The conflicting information has left many women confused. Dr. Andrea LaCroix, Professor of Epidemiology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski, Professor and Chief, Harbor/UCLA Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology/Hematology, talk about the safety and effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy and try to clarify some of the confusion.
Friday, April 08, 2011
Apartments are a hallmark of city living, and on today’s Please Explain, we’ll take a look at how they’ve evolved. New York Magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson and architect and writer James Sanders talk about the variety of New York apartments—from co-ops and condos to tenements and railroad flats to lofts and the classic six—and about how rent control and co-op boards function.
We want to hear your apartment stories! Tell us about the kinds of apartments you’ve lived in, and what you think the pros and cons of apartment living are!
Friday, April 01, 2011
Anger is one of the forces that has sparked protests across the Middle East, from Egypt to Libya to Syria. It can be a motivating force, but it can also be destructive and damaging when it goes unchecked. On this week’s Please Explain, we’re taking a look at the roots and consequences of anger. Dr. Philip Muskin, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, and Dr. Howard Kassinove, Professor of Psychology and Director, Institute for the Study and Treatment of Anger and Aggression, and author of Anger Management: The Complete Treatment Guidebook for Practitioners and Anger Management for Everyone, explain when anger becomes a problem and how anger management works.
Friday, March 25, 2011
The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan has raised many questions about what kind of radiation is leaking and what the health risks of it are. Kenneth Mossman, Professor of Biomedicine and Biotechnology at the University of Arizona, and radiation physicist Jacqueline Yanch, senior lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explain radiation—from nuclear fallout, to airport body scanners, to x-rays and medical treatment.
Friday, March 11, 2011
This morning, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake occured 230 miles northeast of Tokyo, Japan, causing a large tsunami. The full extent of the impact of the tsunami is not yet known, and there are tsunami alerts for Russia, Hawaii, and the West Coast of the United States. On today's Please Explain, we'll try to answer all of your questions about tsunamis with Humboldt University Professor of Geology Lori Dengler who is currently at the National Weather Service monitoring the situation, and Geoff Abers, a seismologist at the Lamont Doherty Center at Columbia University.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Today's Please Explain is all about accents in the English speaking world--how did Australians come to sound different than New Zealanders? Why do some people lose their accents quickly...while others can hold on to them for decades? NYU Professor of Linguistics Gregory Guy and North Carolina State University Distinguished Professor of English Walt Wolfram will discuss the various accents in the English-speaking world and even analyze some samples from volunteers!
Friday, February 25, 2011
The first silk textiles were created some 5000 years ago. This week's Please Explain is all about silk, and how fibers made by worms create versatile fabrics and have helped shape the culture of much of the world. Mark Norell, Chair of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, who is currently finishing a book on the Silk Road, talks about the history of silk; Ingrid Johnson, professor of Textile Development and Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology; and Rebecca Robertson, Decorating and Home Editor for Martha Stewart Living join us to discuss how silk is produced, processed, used, and how it should be cared for.
Friday, February 18, 2011
This week’s Please Explain investigates a common phenomenon that’s mysterious to many of us: sneezing! Dr. Marjorie Slankard, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, and Director of the Allergy Clinic at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Dr.Neil Kao, allergy and asthma specialist with the Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, South Carolina, join us.
Friday, January 21, 2011
This week’s Please Explain is about computer worms and viruses. Richard Ford, from the Center for Security Science at the Florida Institute of Technology, and Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief of PC Magazine, tell us how viruses and worms are created, how they infiltrate individual computers, explain the damage they can wreak and how we can best protect our machines.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Salt is found on most dining tables and in most kitchens—but this ubiquitous household item has a long and curious history. It’s a flavor enhancer, an ice melter, has been used as a currency, and has shaped civilization. Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History, and Dr. Sonia Angell, Director, Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control, New York City Health Department, explain what salt is, where it comes from, and discusses its influence on history and on our health.
Friday, January 07, 2011
SAT, PSAT, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, GRE, NAEP, PISA...when did the nation become obsessed with standardized testing and what do these exams tell us? On this week's Please Explain, testing experts Howard Everson and David Rindskopf explain how these tests are put together and what they are supposed to evaluate. Dr. Everson is co-chair of the Technical Advisory Committee for the National Center for Education and the Economy, as well as the chair of the Technical Advisory Committee for Testing and Assessment for the New York State Education Department. Dr. Rindskopf is Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology and Psychology at the City University of New York Graduate School.
Friday, December 17, 2010
This cold weather has caused many of us to pull out our wool sweaters for extra warmth, and for this week’s Please Explain we’re talking about wool—and the process of gathering and using wool, from the sheep to the sweater! Clara Parkes, author of The Knitters Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber and The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn, and Dr. Christopher Lupton, Professor, The Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, join us to discuss the subject.