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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: Breast Cancer

Friday, February 21, 2014

A recent long-term study questioning the benefits of annual mammograms for older women. This week’s Please Explain is about breast cancer. Dr. Larry Norton, Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Breast Cancer Programs at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, describes how the disease is detected and the ways it can be treated.

Comments [20]

Please Explain: Genius

Friday, February 14, 2014

This week’s Please Explain is all about genius. Dean Keith Simonton, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, talks about what exceptional intelligence is and how it can influence creativity, leadership and achievement. And we’ll find out how genius and intelligence are measured.

Comments [18]

Please Explain: Shipping Containers and How Cargo Moves around the World

Friday, February 07, 2014

Container shipping began 50 years ago and developed into a huge industry that has made the boom in global trade possible. Marc Levinson, author of The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, tells us how cargo moves around the works, and looks at the sweeping economic consequences containerization brought about.

Comments [14]

Please Explain: Cats

Friday, January 31, 2014

John Bradshaw, director of the University of Bristol’s Anthrozoology Institute, and author of Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, tells us all about cats—from how they were first domesticated to how they hunt to how they show affection. He offers new insights about the domestic cat that challenge many of our most basic assumptions about our feline companions.

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Please Explain: Dogs

Friday, January 24, 2014

This week's Please Explain is all about dogs. We'll find out the evolutionary roots of domestic dogs, what it means when your dog wags its tail, and why some breeds are easier to train than others. Veterinarian Dr. John Ciribassi, who was one of the editors of Decoding Your Dog, and pet expert and journalist Steve Dale, who contributed to the book, take your calls and questions about man's best friend.

Comments [22]

Please Explain: Apps

Friday, January 03, 2014

Find out how apps are created and get recommendations for must-haves — tools that can help find parking, find a ride, track calories, and more.

Comments [20]

How to Get Organized for the New Year

Friday, December 27, 2013

From cleaning out closets and clearing clutter to the tangle of wires behind your television and stereo, Maxwell Ryan, CEO and founder of Apartment Therapy, gives advice and answers questions about how to get organized for the new year. Now you have no excuse!

Comments [16]

Please Explain: The Politics of Food

Friday, December 20, 2013

On this week’s Please Explain, Marion Nestle, author of Eat, Drink Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food PoliticsFood Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and HealthWhat to Eat, among other books, talks about the politics of food.

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Please Explain: Butchery

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sam Garwin and Ryan Fibiger from Saugatuck Craft Butchery in Westport, Connecticut, talk about the importance of local, humanely raised meats. They explain the various cuts of meat, how they’re best prepared, whole-animal butchery, knife skills, and how the sausage is made.

Comments [10]

Please Explain: Coffee

Friday, December 06, 2013

The devotion to coffee verges on a religion for many people. Here's why.

Comments [48]

Please Explain: Kitchen Tools

Friday, November 15, 2013

All living things need to eat, but only humans cook...and how we cook has evolved and grown more sophisticated since our earliest days. We have nonstick skillets, automatic espresso machines, digital meat thermometers, and high-speed blenders. But in our earliest days, we didn't even have pots to cook in. On this week’s Please Explain, Bee Wilson, author of Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, tells us all about the history of our cooking tools—when and how they were invented and how they’ve changed the foods we make.

Comments [4]

Please Explain: Beer

Friday, November 08, 2013

Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer and author of The Brewmaster’s Table, talks about beer—where it comes from, how it's made, and the wide varieties of brews.

Comments [13]

Please Explain: The Slow Cooker

Friday, November 01, 2013

Julia Collin Davidson, of America's Test Kitchen, talks about the versatility of the slow cooker. It’s not just for beef stew anymore. On this week’s Please Explain she talks about how to roast, poach, and even make cakes and custards in the slow cooker. Julia Collin Davidson is one of the editors of America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution.

Comments [10]

Please Explain: Candy

Friday, October 25, 2013

Just in time for Halloween, this week’s Please Explain is all about candy! Samira Kawash tells the story of how candy evolved from a luxury good to a cheap, everyday snack. In Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure she explores the history and cultural history of candy and examines how candy became the most loved and loathed of processed foods.

Comments [25]

Please Explain: Wine

Friday, October 18, 2013

Humans have been drinking wine for 8,000 years. On this week’s Please Explain Paul Lukacs tells us all about wine and its long, rich history. He’s the author of Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures.

Comments [8]

Please Explain: The Farm Bill

Friday, October 04, 2013

Ron Nixon, New York Times reporter, talks about the Farm Bill—what it means for farmers, how it shapes food and nutrition policy in this country, and why it’s taken so long to pass and updated bill.

Comments [6]

Please Explain: Pepper

Friday, September 27, 2013

Marjorie Shaffer, author of Pepper, and Andrew Smith, food historian, discuss pepper, the world’s most popular spice—from pepper’s role in bringing the Europeans, and later the Americans, to Asia to the many ways to use pepper to enhance your cooking!

Comments [11]

Please Explain: Calories

Friday, September 20, 2013

Food is measured in calories. People sometimes count calories and cut calories, and this week’s Please Explain is all about what calories are, how they’re measured, how we burn them, and if they differ from food to food. Joining us are: Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy and Professor of Public Policy at Duke University. And Russell Rising, Research Associate in the Metabolic Laboratory at the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital.

Comments [9]

Please Explain: Yiddish

Friday, September 13, 2013

Chutzpah, glitch, klutz, schlep, and tchotchke are all Yiddish words that have entered into everyday usage. On this week’s Please Explain, we’ll find out all about the Yiddish language—where it comes from, how it’s influenced our culture, and its resurgence.

Comments [26]

Please Explain: Whales

Friday, September 06, 2013

This week's Please Explain is about the largest mammals on earth: whales. Joining us are: Dr. John J. Flynn, the Frick Curator of Fossil Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History and the Dean of the Museum's Richard Gilder Graduate School. He's also the curator of the exhibition "Whales: Giants of the Deep," on view at the museum through January 5. And Dr. Mark Baumgartner, Marine Biologist and Associate Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

Comments [7]