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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

Chat and Chew

Friday, October 16, 2009

Former New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes leads us on a tour of the history of restaurants in New York. And today’s Please Explain is all about regional accents in the United States.

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Please Explain: Regional Accents

Friday, October 16, 2009

You can tell a lot about someone from the way they speak. On today’s edition of Please Explain we’ll look at the different accents found around the United States and find out where they come from and why they persist. Joining us are Natalie Schilling-Estes, Associate Professor of ...

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Please Explain: Prions

Friday, October 09, 2009

On today’s Please Explain we're looking at prions and how they can cause infectious diseases such as Mad Cow disease and the Chronic Wasting disease that’s been affecting deer, elk, and moose herds in the West and Midwest. Dr. David Westaway, Professor of Neurology and Director of the ...

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Please Explain: Animal Migration

Friday, October 02, 2009

The days are growing shorter and colder, and birds, butterflies, and other animals are starting to head to warmer climates for the winter. These journeys are often thousand of miles—monarch butterflies can fly as far as 3,000 miles to winter in Mexico. On today’s Please Explain, we’ll find ...

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Please Explain: Sharks

Friday, September 25, 2009

There are some 440 species of sharks, and the fish have been swimming in the oceans for 420 million years, before dinosaurs existed. On today's Please Explain we'll find out about sharks, from hammerheads to great whites, and look at how they are becoming threatened. We're joined ...

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Please Explain: Trees

Friday, September 18, 2009

You may have noticed that leaves have started turning, marking the end of summer. On today’s Please Explain we'll find out why leaves change color and everything else about trees, with Jessica Argate, Forest Manager, New York Botanical Garden, and David Allan Sibley, author of The Sibley ...

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Please Explain: Typography

Friday, September 11, 2009

Our latest Please Explain is all about typefaces and typography. Typeface designer Jonathan Hoefler, type designer and president of Hoefler & Frere-Jones and Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts and author of the VISUALS ...

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Please Explain: Intuition and Gut Reaction

Friday, August 28, 2009

On today’s edition of Please Explain, we’re looking at instinct, intuition, gut feelings, those unconscious reactions that guide so much of our decision making. We’re joined by Timothy Wilson, Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, and author of Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering ...

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Please Explain: Neurofeedback

Friday, August 21, 2009

Neurofeedback is a method of training the brain by monitoring brain activity with sensors. Individuals can see their brain activity on a screen in real time and learn to regulate it themselves, in order to "train" their brain to perform specific tasks more efficiently. We’ll hear about how it works ...

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Please Explain: Spices

Friday, August 14, 2009

Most spices are delicious, some have medical value and a good amount of them have changed the course of human history. On this week's Please Explain we'll learn all about spices, from Anise to Vanilla. We'll be joined by Dr. John E. Hayes, Assistant Professor of Food Science at Penn ...

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Please Explain: Endangered Languages

Friday, August 07, 2009

More than half of the world's nearly 7,000 languages are at risk of dying out in the next century. On this week's Please Explain, we take a look at what causes languages to disappear and the efforts to document and revive endangered languages around the world. Gregory ...

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Please Explain: Obesity

Friday, July 31, 2009

According to recent studies, about 1/3 of Americans are obese, and between 1998 and 2006, the obesity rate rose 37% in this country. Obesity-related illnesses accounted for an estimated $147 billion in 2008, nearly 10 percent of all U.S. medical spending, according to the Centers for Disease Control. On today’s ...

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Living Large

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi on why he thinks Goldman Sachs is, in his words, "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity." Filmmakers Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne discuss their new movie "Lorna’s Silence." Then, the director of New York's Urban Park Rangers talks about our city's wildlife. ...

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An Insider's View

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lawrence McDonald, former Lehman Brothers vice president, gives and inside account of what happened at the financial services firm and why it was allowed to fail. Director Geoffrey Smith and Dr. Henry Marsh talk about the documentary "The English Surgeon." Then, the director of the political satire "In the Loop" ...

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Please Explain: Mosquitoes

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mosquitoes are one of the downsides of summer, and they are expected to be especially bad this year due to all the rain this spring. We’ll find out why mosquitoes buzz and bite, how they transmit dangerous diseases, and some ways to get rid of them. Joseph M. Conlon, a ...

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Please Explain: Plastic Surgery

Friday, July 10, 2009

On today's Please Explain, we’ll look at plastic surgery, from liposuction to Botox to rhinoplasty, and what happens when someone goes under the knife to improve his or her appearance. We'll be joined by Dr. Robert Grant, Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital ...

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Please Explain: Dry Cleaning

Friday, June 26, 2009

Today’s Please Explain is all about dry cleaning--how it works, what chemicals are used, and how it is becoming more environmentally friendly. We'll be joined by Wayne Edelman, President and CEO of Meurice Garment Care and past President of the National Cleaners Association. He is also the doctor ...

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Please Explain: The Atmosphere

Friday, June 19, 2009

On today's edition of Please Explain, we’ll look at the Earth’s atmosphere—what it's made of, how it makes life on the planet possible, determines weather patterns, and how human activity is changing it. We'll be joined by Dr. Joel S. Levine, Senior Research Scientist at NASA ...

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Please Explain: Bees

Friday, June 12, 2009

The honeybees is just one species of bee, and they often get the most attention, but there are an estimated 20,000 different species of bees in the world. Bees play an important role in pollinating plants, and many have highly developed methods of socialization and communication. We'll learn all about ...

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Please Explain: Girls

Friday, May 22, 2009

Today's Please Explain is about the nature of girls--their minds, bodies, brains, emotional lives, and behaviors. We’ll be joined by psychotherapist Lisa Machoian and Margaret M. McCarthy, professor of physiology at the University of Maryland.

Listen to last week’s Please Explain: Boys.

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