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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: BBQ

Friday, July 18, 2008

Barbecue guru Steve Raichlen, whose The Barbecue! Bible has been revised and re-released on its 10th anniversary, and world-class pitmaster Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama tell us how the best BBQ is made, and whether you can find the authentic stuff ...

Comments [19]

Please Explain: Hamburgers

Friday, July 11, 2008

Please Explain is all about America's favorite sandwich - the hamburger! Find out how German hamburg steak became a classic meal all over the world. We'll also hear about the best burgers available, from fast food versions to grass-fed beef on brioche buns. George Motz has been called America's foremost ...

Comments [38]

Please Explain: Solar Power

Friday, June 27, 2008

With the price of oil going higher and higher, alternative sources of energy like solar power are becoming much more attractive! Find out how solar power works, and whether it could help solve our energy problems.

Stephen A. Hammer is Director of the Urban Energy Project at Columbia University's

Comments [18]

Please Explain: Brainwashing

Friday, June 20, 2008

Brainwashing has been used throughout history to manipulate, coerce, and torture. Dominic Streatfeild is the author of Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control. Oxford research scientist Dr. Kathleen Taylor is the author of Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control.

Have you ever been brainwashed? When did you ...

Comments [14]

Please Explain: Snoopology

Friday, June 06, 2008

What can you find out about a friend, a colleague, a lover, or yourself by inspecting everyday objects? Snoopology is the study of what the stuff we own reveals about our psychological truths. Sam Gosling is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of ...

Comments [11]

Please Explain: Futures

Friday, May 30, 2008

Have no idea what a futures market is, and how it affects your life? Tune in to Please Explain to find out! Charles M. Jones is Associate Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

Comments [8]

Please Explain: Hot Dogs

Friday, May 23, 2008

During Hot Dog Season – from Memorial Day to Labor Day – Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs. That’s 818 hot dogs consumed every second during that period! And New Yorkers consume more hot dogs than people in any other city. Find out about the history of hot dogs, ...

Comments [47]

Please Explain: Hybrid Cars

Friday, May 16, 2008

As gas prices rise, more consumers are turning to hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius. Find out how hybrid cars work, which ones are the most efficient, the potential risks to the owner and to pedestrians, and the future of hybrid cars -- especially the 100mpg hybrid plug-in vehicles. John ...

Comments [46]

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 ...

Comments [10]

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 ...

Comments [2]

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. ...

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 ...

Comments [39]

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]