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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: Farm Subsidies

Friday, May 09, 2008

Find out how farm subsidies work, who gets them, and how they affect the prices of the food that reaches our tables. Dan Morgan is an investigative reporter for the Washington Post and co-author of Harvesting Cash, a year-long series on waste and abuse in the farm-subsidy program ...

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Please Explain: Malaria

Friday, May 02, 2008

Malaria kills more than 1 million people each year, many of them children. Yet the disease is preventable. Find out how malaria spreads, why it’s so devastating in Africa, and how it can be stopped. Nobel laureate Dr. Peter Agre is director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research ...

Comments [8]

Please Explain: DNA

Friday, April 25, 2008

DNA testing has been in the news lately, thanks to the raid on the FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas where authorities don’t know which children belong to which parents. We find out what DNA is, how it defines us, and how DNA testing works. Dr. Timothy Bestor is Professor of ...

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Please Explain: Plastic

Friday, April 18, 2008

It’s virtually impossible to get through the day without using plastic, but it’s only been widely available to consumers for about 100 years. We find out what plastic is, why it’s so useful, and whether we should be concerned about its widespread use. Dr. Mark Michalovic is Educational Consultant with ...

Comments [25]

Please Explain: Foreclosure

Friday, April 11, 2008

Find out about the different types of foreclosures, the legal process by which a property can be seized, how the real estate collapse has is affecting New Yorkers, and the industry that is thriving on America’s housing woes. Michael MacKenzie is US Markets Correspondent for the Financial Times. ...

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Please Explain: Crying

Friday, April 04, 2008

Get out your tissues - Please Explain is all about crying. What are tears made of? How did crying evolve? Is it a uniquely human phenomenon? Does it have health benefits? Vassar psychology professor Randy Cornelius has been developing an evolutionary theory of weeping that focuses on tears. Tom Lutz, ...

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Please Explain: Games of Make Believe

Friday, March 28, 2008

We look into how children play games of make believe, and whether kids’ imaginations have changed along with trends in technology and education. Dr. Susan Linn is Associate Director of the Media Center of the Judge Baker Children's Center, Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and the author of ...

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Please Explain: NPR

Friday, March 21, 2008

NPR says that its mission is to present "fair, accurate and comprehensive information and selected cultural expressions for the benefit of, and at the service of our democracy." That's easier said than done.

Find out how NPR shapes its news and political coverage, who makes judgment calls on a daily ...

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Please Explain: Balance and Proprioception

Friday, March 14, 2008

Find out about two senses we often take for granted - balance and proprioception (the sense that indicates body movement and placement). Science writer Sandra Blakeslee is author of the book The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) ...

Comments [20]

Please Explain: Parkways

Friday, March 07, 2008

Parkways are a kind of road common in the New York City area, but more rare in the rest of the USA. Find out what parkways are, and how they fit in to the American transportation system. Dr. Timothy Davis is Lead Historian for Park Historic Structures & Cultural Landscapes ...

Comments [17]

Please Explain: Carbon Footprints

Friday, February 29, 2008

"Carbon footprint" has become a catchphrase in the last year or two. We find out just what a carbon footprint is, how it’s calculated, and how much it matters. Mark Z. Jacobson is Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and Catherine S. Norman is ...

Comments [19]

Please Explain: Ants

Friday, February 22, 2008

We look into the fascinating lives of ants. For example: some ant species can form floating rafts in order to survive floods. Another species, weaver ants, build nests in trees by sewing leaves together.

Brian L. Fisher is the Chairman of Entomology at the California Academy of Sciences and creator ...

Comments [6]

Please Explain: Steroids and Human Growth Hormones

Friday, February 15, 2008

Roger Clemens's Congressional testimony has put pro athletes' steroid use on center stage. On Please Explain, find out what exactly steroids and human growth hormones are, how they affect the body, and why they can be so dangerous.

Leonard speaks with Dr. Timothy Hewett of The Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center ...

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Please Explain: Science of Love

Friday, February 08, 2008

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Please Explain is all about the science of love.

Rutgers anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher is author of Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray and Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. University ...

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Please Explain: Mormons and the Church of LDS

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormonism) is the fastest-growing religion in the world. On Please Explain, find out about the basic tenants of the Mormon faith...and how the church's history has influenced its culture. Also: how the recent death of church president Gordon B. Hinckley ...

Comments [21]

Please Explain: Stock Markets

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stock markets around the world seem to be going haywire in recent weeks. We find out how global stock markets work, and why they’re so interconnected. John Authers is the Investment Editor for the Financial Times; David Weidner is Senior Columnist for Marketwatch.

Weigh in: Do ...

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Please Explain: Delegates

Friday, January 18, 2008

This year’s batch of presidential hopefuls are fighting over delegates as much as they’re fighting over voters. On Please Explain, find out who the delegates are, how the system works, and what superdelegates are.

Stephen Wayne is Professor of Government at Georgetown University and author of The Road to ...

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Please Explain: The History of Money

Friday, January 11, 2008

The first coins were invented in the seventh century BC! Please Explain looks into the history of money...from the earliest lumps of metal, to modern-day virtual money. Numismatist Douglas Mudd is the curator of The American Numismatic Association's Money Museum and author of All the Money in the World.

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Please Explain: Anger and Aggression

Friday, January 04, 2008

What actually is anger? And what does it do to you and to others? On this week’s Please Explain, Dr. William Gerin, of the Behavorial Cardiovascular Health and Hypertension Program at Columbia Universtiy School of Medicine, and Dr. Emil F. Coccaro, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University ...

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Please Explain: Champagne and Other Sparkling Wines

Friday, December 28, 2007

What makes champagne different from other sparkling wines? Find out how the good stuff is made, and how to get the best sparkling wine at the price you can afford. Michael Aaron is the chairman of Sherry-Lehmann, the 73 year-old Park Avenue wine and spirits shop. Karen Page is co-author ...

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