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: The Human Heart

Friday, October 19, 2007

Our hearts beat about 100,000 times every day, pumping our blood nearly 12,000 miles: the equivalent of crossing the U.S. from coast to coast four times. Today we'll find out how our most vital organ works, why it sometimes fails, and what we can do to keep it healthy. Send ...

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Please Explain: Acupuncture

Friday, October 12, 2007

Most experts agree that acupuncture is safe, but does it work? And what is the circulation of Qi, the meridian system, and the five phases theory? Find out all about acupuncture on today's Please Explain. Leonard is joined by Dr. Richard Hammerschlag, Neurobiologist and Dean of Research at the Oregon ...

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Please Explain: Apples

Friday, October 05, 2007

We'll get straight to the core of autumn's favorite fruit on today's Please Explain. Send your questions on all things apple-related to Steve Clarke of Prospect Hill Orchards and Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, author of A is for Apple, Apple Trees, and An Apple a Day.

Call us at ...

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Please Explain: Over-the-Counter Painkillers

Friday, September 07, 2007

Americans spend more than $2 billion annually on non-prescription pain relievers. Today we'll find out what they are, how they work, how they differ from one another and from prescription drugs, what side effects they cause, and more. Rear Admiral Sandra Kweder, MD, deputy director of the Food and Drug ...

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Please Explain: Hair

Friday, August 10, 2007

Find out why we have hair, if blondes have more fun, how shampoo and conditioner actually work, and more when Assistant Professor of Clinical Dermatology Dr. Michele Hanjani and anthropologist Dr. Peter Frost give us the long and short of hair, from head to toe.

Call us live on the ...

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Please Explain: Birth Control

Friday, July 13, 2007

The earliest known female contraceptive device dates back to 1850 BC, when pessaries made of crocodile dung, honey, and sodium carbonate may have been the best option available to women. Chemical contraception has changed a lot since then. Today's Please Explain is about the chemistry of birth control. Dr. Rini ...

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Please Explain: Smell

Friday, July 06, 2007

On today's Please Explain, we get nosey with smell. Biophysicist Dr. Luca Turin and psychobiologist Dr. Charles Wysocki explain what odors are, how our noses work, and what kind of information humans can gather by smell.

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Please Explain: Fireworks

Friday, June 29, 2007

Today's Please Explain is all about fireworks, just in time for the Fourth of July. Phil Grucci of Fireworks by Grucci. Mr. Grucci is an innovator in the field of pyrotechnics, and he's been responsible for many of the most challenging and progressive pyrotechnic performances around the world, from ...

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Please Explain: Making Green Building Affordable

Friday, March 30, 2007

On Please Explain, we’ll find out how to make environmentally friendly buildings more affordable. William D. Browning is an expert in energy-efficient design. Jamy Bacchus is a consultant focusing on energy modeling and sustainability for the built environment. We’re also taking your calls at 212-433-9692 (that’s 212-433-WNYC).

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Please Explain: Chocolate

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Aztec king Montezuma drank liquid chocolate all day to enhance his libido. On today's Please Explain: which brands are tastiest, whether it has any real health benefits -- and why so many of us are addicted to it. Leonard talks to Clay Gordon, a chocolate critic who runs the ...


Please Explain: Radiology

Friday, February 02, 2007

On today's Please Explain, we'll answer your questions about radiology. Ever wondered how doctors read X-rays? or how MRIs render images of your brain? Leonard talks to Dr. Robert Zimmerman of the Department of Radiology at Weill Medical College, and director of Diagnostic Radiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Also, ...


Please Explain: Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

Friday, February 03, 2006

Humans have documented encounters with bed bugs since the 1600s. The parasites feed on human and animal blood, usually while the host is sleeping. The bugs, which were fairly common in the US before WWII, are starting to crop up again. On this week’s edition of Please Explain, Richard J. ...


Please Explain: Bridges

Friday, January 27, 2006

There are 2,027 bridges in New York City. On this week's edition of Please Explain, we'll learn how bridges work, and how they serve the communities that build them. Khaled Mahmoud, bridge engineer and president of Bridge Technology Consulting, joins us. He's also chairman of the Bridge Engineering ...


Please Explain Cats

Friday, June 17, 2005

In our weekly Please Explain feature, cat therapist Carole Wilbourn, "The Kitty Freud," tells us how to help our cats lead happier lives. She’s the author of a column called "Cats on the Couch."

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» Read "Cats on ...


Please Explain Vitamins

Friday, June 10, 2005

There's a dizzying array of vitamins, herbs, and minerals available to treat almost any health problem. On today's Please Explain feature, we’ll ask the experts which supplements really help, and which ones don't. We’ll hear from Dr. David Talmage, Director of the Masters of Science in Human Nutrition Program and ...


A Taxing Subject

Friday, April 08, 2005

Donna LeValley, a tax lawyer and editor of J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax Guide 2005, helps us get ready for tax day. We’ll learn about the history of income tax, figure out which forms to use, and get some advice on when it’s time to turn to a professional for ...


Please Explain: Get Organized

Friday, April 01, 2005

Finally you can deal with all those piles of paper on your desk, the boxes under your bed, the stacks of stuff in your closet. On today's Please Explain, Julie Morgenstern, professional organizer, will whip us into shape.

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Best If Used By...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

How rigid are "sell by" dates? And how long after this date will your eggs be good? Dr. Susan Sumner, who specializes in food safety and is the Director of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech, and Tod Marks, Senior Editor with Consumer Reports, help us ...