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, September 17, 2010
Ever since Joseph Priestly discovered how to "impregnate water with fixed air" in the 18th century, carbonated beverages have been ubiquitous. Sodas have been used to cure diseases, fight alcoholism, and spread American culture around the globe. On this week's Please Explain, we’ll find out what soda is, what’s in it, and when it became so popular. We’re joined by Dr. Kelly Brownell, the co-founder and director of the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, and Darcy O'Neil, beverage master and author of the book Fix the Pumps, a history of soda from the 18th century to the present.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Today’s Please Explain is all about breakfast cereal. Food historian Andy Smith, the author of Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine, among other books, joins us along with Edwin Chavey, aka Mr. Breakfast, director of the Mr. Breakfast Website and "The Cereal Project," a database of 1,200 cereals made in the United States, to explain what cereals are made of, how truthful health claims made about some are, and how there got to be so many varieties.
Friday, September 03, 2010
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in North America, and the number of reported cases has been steadily climbing over the last decade. We’re joined by Brian Fallon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center, and Dr. Carolyn Britton, associate professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, and chief neurologist for the Lyme research studies conducted by Columbia’s Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center. They’ll discuss how the disease is spread, diagnosed, and treated, and how we can protect ourselves while we’re outside this summer.
Friday, August 27, 2010
As summer nears its close, many of us are flying away to get our last taste of summer vacation, but nothing ruins a good jaunt to Europe like a bout of jet lag. In fact, jet lag was once considered such a problem that Congress set up a special unit at NASA devoted to studying the condition. Joining us to explain why jet lag occurs and how we can prevent it are Dr. Kevin Gregory, a former scientist at the NASA Jet Lag Center and the current senior scientist at Alertness Solutions Inc., and Dr. David M. Rapoport, Director of the Sleep Medicine Program at NYU Medical School.
Friday, August 13, 2010
This week's Please Explain will answer all of our caffeine-related questions, from whether or not we should drink coffee before we run a marathon to how caffeine differs from other stimulants. Bennett Alan Weinberg, co-author of the book The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug, explains how the world's most popular drug affects us.
Do you have a question about how caffeine affects you? Ask it as a comment!
Friday, August 06, 2010
This summer’s high temperatures have brought headaches and heat advisories. On today’s Please Explain, we’re taking a look at some of the health risks that extreme heat brings—from dehydration to heat stroke. Dr. Susi Vassallo, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, explains how heat affects the body.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Deirdre Barrett, assistant clinical professor of psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Department, and Rosalind Cartwright, professor Emeritus in the Division of Neuroscience at Rush University Medical Center, discuss how dreams are studied, what they reveal about us, and what therapies can treat nightmares and other disorders. Dr. Barrett's latest book is Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose, and she's the editor of Trauma and Dreams, and the author of The Committee of Sleep, and Rosalind Cartwright is the author of The Twenty-four our Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in North America, and the number of reported cases has been steadily climbing over the last decade. We’re joined by Dr. Brian Fallon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center, and Dr. Carolyn Britton, associate professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, and chief neurologist for the Lyme research studies conducted by Columbia’s Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center. They’ll discuss how the disease is spread, diagnosed, and treated, and how we can protect ourselves while we’re outside this summer.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Leaves of three, let them be! Today’s Please Explain is all about poisonous plants. We're joined by Dr. Michael J. Balick, Vice President for Botanical Science and Director and Philecology Curator at The New York Botanical Garden Institute of Economic Botany, and Dr. Lewis Nelson, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, and Director of the Fellowship in Medical Toxicology at New York University School of Medicine and the New York City Poison Control Center.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Algorithms are used to solve problems. They’re used in math, computer programming, and on Wall Street, but we also use algorithms to tie our shoes or to bake a loaf of bread. On this week’s Please Explain, Daniel Bienstock, Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, at Columbia University, and Harry Lewis, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard, tell us what algorithms are and how they work to solve problems both simple and complex. Harry Lewis is the author of Blown to Bits and Excellence without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Batteries help power our world. They’re in everything from watches to iPods to smoke detectors to electric cars. On today’s edition of Please Explain, we’ll find out what they’re made of and how they work. We're joined by Jeremy P. Meyers, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering/Materials Science & Engineering, University of Texas at Austin; and M. Stanley Whittingham, Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering, and Director, Institute for Materials Research, SUNY at Binghamton.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Summer brings barbeques, potato salads, and lots of leafy green salads—and the potential for food-borne illness. On this Please Explain, we’ll find out where these bugs come from and how can we avoid getting sick from the foods we eat.
Friday, June 04, 2010
We’ll look into the science of baking the perfect cake on today’s Please Explain! We'll be joined by John Barricelli , owner of the SoNo Baking Company and author of the SoNo Baking Company Cookbook . We'll also talk with Nick Malgieri the author of many books including,Perfect Cakes , he also teaches at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York.
Friday, May 28, 2010
With the recent disclosures that Richard Blumenthal did not serve in Vietnam, Adam Wheeler tricked his way into Harvard, and Columbia's valedictorian plagiarized his commencement speech, this week's Please Explain is all about lying.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Please Explain is all about matter, anti-matter, and dark matter. Lisa Randall, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Harvard University; Michael Tuts, Professor of Physics at Columbia University and Mordecai Mark Mac-Low, Chair of the Department of Physics at the American Museum of Natural History tell us all about what it is and what it means.