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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: 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. ...

Comments [12]

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, ...

Comments [26]

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 ...

Comments [13]

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 ...

Comments [2]

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 ...

Comments [5]

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 ...

Comments [7]

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.

Comments [5]

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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Please Explain: Snow

Friday, December 21, 2007

We find out about the physics and chemistry of snow and what conditions we’ll need to have it with Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht, a professor of Physics at Caltech.

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Please Explain: The Science of Consciousness

Friday, December 14, 2007

When you see a blue flower, do you see the same blue flower that I do? When you feel cold is it the same sensation I feel? On Please Explain we look at the biology of consciousness...and what brain science reveals about who we are and how we experience the ...

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Please Explain: Oil Spills

Friday, November 30, 2007

58,000 gallons of oil were recently spilled in the San Francisco Bay…and much of it will never be cleaned up. On today’s Please Explain: how oil spills harm the environment, and why they’re so hard to clean up.

Christopher M. Reddy is a scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. ...

Comments [5]

Please Explain: Laughter

Friday, November 16, 2007

Research shows that the average adult laughs six to eight times a day... whereas the average child laughs around four hundred times each day. Today’s Please Explain is all about laughter. Dr. Robert Provine of the Neuroscience Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County is author of the book ...

Comments [33]