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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

Please Explain: Organ Transplants

Friday, April 10, 2009

The lives of more than 100,000 patients in the U.S. depend on finding an organ to replace a damaged or diseased one. Only a fraction of people who need a new kidney, liver, or heart actually receive one, but the procedure saves thousands of lives every year. We’ll be joined ...

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Please Explain: How We Read

Friday, April 03, 2009

If it comes to you easily, being able to read is easy to take for granted. But reading is an extraordinarily complex process, one that researchers are still working to understand fully. On today's Please Explain we look at the science of reading. Dr. Sally E. Shaywitz and Dr. Bennett ...

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Please Explain: Socialism

Friday, March 27, 2009

The term "socialist" has been tossed around in the news lately in reference to any number of Obama Administration policies. Find out what socialism really means, where it came from, and how it got such a bad wrap. Eric Foner is Dewitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University and ...

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Please Explain: Flowers

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today is the first day of spring, and the first buds and flowers are starting to appear. Here to explain the diversity and scientific complexity of flowers and how to cultivate flower gardens are Dr. Amy Litt, Director of Plant Genomics and Cullman Curator at the New York Botanical Garden, ...

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Please Explain: Superstition

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday the 13th is a date that makes some people cringe. Where does superstition come from and why are people all over the world prone to superstitious beliefs? We’ll be joined by Dr. Edmund Kern, Associate Professor of History at Lawrence University and by Stuart Vyse, Professor of Psychology at ...

Comments [19]

Please Explain: Oil

Friday, March 06, 2009

Petroleum (and all of its byproducts) have shaped our world into what it is today. Discover where oil comes from, how it’s refined and how much of it is left in ground on this week's Please Explain. Dr. John B. Curtis is Professor in the Department of Geology and Geological ...

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Please Explain: Vitamin Supplements

Friday, February 27, 2009

It may seem like common knowledge that taking vitamins is good for you, but over the last few years several studies have failed to show that vitamin supplements help prevent chronic disease or prolong life. In fact, things like vitamin C, can actually help cancer cells grow. We’ll be joined ...

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Please Explain: Emotion and Color

Friday, February 20, 2009

Feeling Blue? Green with envy? Why not try putting on some rose-colored glasses. On this weeks Please Explain learn how color can have a tremendous effect on your mood. Dr. Andrew J. Elliot studies how we respond to color at the University of Rochester. Dr. David Brainard is professor of ...

Comments [34]

Please Explain: Internet Dating

Friday, February 13, 2009

More than 35 million people are looking for love right now on the internet. The demand has led to an explosion of internet dating sites. Jennifer Gibbs is an Assistant Professor of Communications at Rutgers University. Gian Gonzaga is a research scientist at eHarmony Labs and the UCLA Interdisciplinary Relationship ...

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Please Explain: Luck

Friday, February 06, 2009

From superstition to simple probability, luck has different meanings in different cultures. We’ll find out why whether that lucky charm really can help you win the lottery. Richard Wiseman is a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire and author of the book The Luck Factor. ...

Comments [24]

Please Explain: Cockroaches

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nearly a third of all NYC households are infested with cockroaches. We find out all about roaches, and why they’re among the hardiest species on the planet! Urban entomology specialist Eric P. Benson is a professor at Clemson University; Richard Cooper of Cooper Pest Solutions says he has ...

Comments [51]

Please Explain: Cold

Friday, January 23, 2009

Please Explain is all about cold - which many of us may have been feeling lately, with high temperatures rarely going above the 30s lately here in NYC! Dr. John Castellani is Research Physiologist with the US Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine. Dr. David Phillips is one of Canada’s ...

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Please Explain: Food, from the Farm to the Table

Friday, January 16, 2009

Please Explain is all about our modern food systems, and how food gets from the farm to the table. Susanne Freidberg is associate professor at Dartmouth College and the author of the book Fresh. Rich Pirog is associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

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Please Explain: Credit

Friday, January 09, 2009

Credit, and its misuse, are major causes of our current economic crisis. On Please Explain, find out about the pros and cons of credit, how it's evolved in recent years, and what role it can now play in an economic recovery. Jeffrey Blyskal is a Senior Editor with

Comments [53]

Please Explain: Baking

Friday, December 19, 2008

‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, cakes, and pies. Find about the chemistry of baking, and why techniques and ingredients really do matter when creating the tastiest baked treats. Chef Katherine Alford is editor and Test Kitchen Director for the Food Network; Dorie Greenspan is a ...

Comments [28]

Please Explain: Metabolism

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some diets and supplements claim to work by speeding up metabolism. Find out how metabolism works, why it’s essential to life, and whether food, exercise, and supplements really can accelerate it...or slow it down. Dr. Rosalind Coleman is Professor of Nutrition and Pediatrics at UNC-Chapel Hill; Marion Nestle is Professor ...

Comments [33]

Please Explain: Tea

Friday, December 05, 2008

After water, tea is the most widely-consumed drink in the world. Please Explain is all about tea! Find out why it’s so popular, and how it’s shaped world history. Michael Harney is a tea expert as well as a buyer and blender for Harney & Sons ...

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Please Explain: The Sun

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Sun makes up about 99% of the total mass of the Solar System. Find out what the sun is made of, how hot it is, and why humans couldn’t survive without it. Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase is an astronomer with Chicago’s Adler Planetarium and a senior research associate ...

Comments [9]

Please Explain: Autism

Friday, November 14, 2008

Since the 1980s, the percentage of people diagnosed with autism has risen dramatically, and no one is exactly sure why. Find out how autism affects the brain, and what the latest theories are on how to treat it. Dr. Robert T. Schultz is Director of the Center for ...

Comments [19]

Please Explain: After the Campaigns Are Over

Friday, November 07, 2008

Now that the election is over – what happens to all the staff, leftover funds, and political machinery? Find out how campaigns are dismantled and transitioned after Election Day. Paul C. Light is Professor at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; Martha Joynt Kumar is Professor at ...

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