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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: 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 ...

Comments [14]

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.

Comments [13]

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 ...

Comments [26]

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 ...

Comments [1]

Please Explain: Undecided Voters

Friday, October 31, 2008

Please Explain is all about what keeps voters undecided until the very last minute. And if you’re one of those undecided voters…we’d love to hear from you. Tell us why you haven’t made up your mind, and what it will take for you to do so by Nov. 4.

Dr. ...

Comments [6]

Please Explain: Jealousy

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jealousy is one of the most basic human experiences; it's even been observed in infants as young as five months old. Find out what jealousy is, what causes it, and why the green-eyed monster can be both destructive and productive. Dr. Maria Legerstee is Professor of Psychology at York University; ...

Comments [19]

Please Explain: Botox

Friday, October 17, 2008

Botox is the most common cosmetic procedure in the U.S.. In addition to erasing wrinkles, it’s also sometimes used to treat migraines and excessive salivation, among other conditions. Find out what Botox is, and what the risks and benefits are. Dr. Paul Greene is Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia ...

Comments [9]

Please Explain: Photosynthesis

Friday, October 10, 2008

Find out how photosynthesis works, and why it brings us beautiful fall foliage this time of year. Leonard talks to educator Dr. James Boyer and research scientist Dr. Amy Litt.

Weigh in: Where in the New York area have you spotted dramatic fall foliage so far this season?

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Please Explain: Alzheimer’s

Friday, October 03, 2008

An estimated 27 million people worldwide are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. Find out what Alzheimer’s is all about, and whether there are ways to prevent it or slow its progress. Dr. Richard Mayeux is co-director of the Taub Institute of Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the ...

Comments [11]

Please Explain: Mushrooms

Friday, September 26, 2008

Find out why mushrooms can be both delicious and dangerous. Gary Lincoff is author of several books including The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. He’s also taught botany and mushroom courses at The New York Botanical Garden since the 1970s. Chef Jawn Chasteen of The Sea ...

Comments [28]

Please Explain: Wall Street Crisis

Friday, September 19, 2008

What a week it’s been in the markets. Find out what’s behind the recent financial crisis of the past few days, and what the credit woes could lead to. Greg Ip is U.S. Economics Editor for the Economist; Andrew Caplin is an Economics Professor at NYU.

Comments [6]

Please Explain: Microchips

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy 50th birthday to the microchip! On Please Explain, find out how microchips work, what they do for us in our everyday lives, and how far they’ve come since they were first introduced 50 years ago. Dr. Simha Sethumadhavan is Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Director of ...

Comments [10]

Please Explain: Satellites

Friday, September 05, 2008

Please Explain is all about satellites – find out what they are, how they work, and what role they play in your everyday life – from cellphones to the weather report. Dr. Christopher Small is a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University; Dr. Scott E. ...

Comments [9]