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: 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 ...

Comments [41]

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. ...


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" ...


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 ...

Comments [16]

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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Please Explain: Bankruptcy

Friday, May 08, 2009

Bankruptcy rates went up 32% in 2008 compared to the previous year. Marie Beaudette, blogger for the Wall Street Journal’s Bankruptcy Beat and Dow Jones Newswire reporter, and Robert Lawless, Galowich-Huizenga Faculty Scholar at the University of Illinois College of Law, explain what filing for bankruptcy means for corporations and ...

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Please Explain: Jazz Improvisation

Friday, May 01, 2009

Improvisation is one of the most important aspects of Jazz, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Jazz pianist Bill Charlap breaks down improvisation and gives a special live performance.

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Please Explain: Measuring Climate Change

Friday, April 24, 2009

There’s substantial evidence that the earth is undergoing major adjustments as a result of human-made carbon emissions in the atmosphere, but what does climate change really mean? NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and photographer Joshua Wolfe, editors of Climate Change: Picturing the Science, explain how scientists gather evidence ...

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Please Explain: Addiction

Friday, April 17, 2009

There are more than 20 million substance abuse addict in America today and about 2 million of them turn to residential rehab each year. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us to explain the science behind addiction and the toll it takes on individual addicts.

Comments [17]

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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