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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

How to Grow and Use Herbs

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nurture them, eat them, preserve them, freeze them — you can even use herbs to ward off mosquitoes or slow E. coli. All your herb questions answered, including some you didn't know you had.

Comments [15]

How to Use Airbnb Without Getting Evicted

Friday, July 11, 2014

A look at what's legal and illegal when using Airbnb to rent out a room or your whole apartment. And we hear your gripes about — and praise for — the service.

Comments [24]

How To Learn a Foreign Language

Friday, June 27, 2014

Successful language learning at an older age requires 1) practice, 2) paying attention 3) getting lots of real world input and 4) practice.

Comments [28]

What Does 'Natural' Really Mean?

Friday, June 20, 2014

A food safety expert explains the rules for what food labels can claim— from "fair trade" to "organic"—and how they can often be misleading.

Comments [13]

Please Explain: The Science of Sound

Friday, June 06, 2014

Acoustics, how sound works, and hunting for the world’s strangest sounds.

Comments [3]

It's Not Your Imagination: This Allergy Season Really Is Worse

Friday, May 30, 2014

"Poorly controlled allergies have a negative impact on your love life,” says Dr. Clifford Bassett. And climate change is making it worse.

Comments [27]

Please Explain: The Eye

Friday, May 02, 2014

On this week's Please Explain we'll find out how the human eye works and how it enables us to see the world around us. Dr. George A. Cioffi, Chairman and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of the Department of Ophthalmology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, tells us how to keep our eyes healthy; why our vision changes; and how problems like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration affect our vision.

Comments [36]

I Feel Your Pain: All About Empathy

Friday, April 18, 2014

Psychologist Paul Bloom and Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, explain empathy's role in human psychology, behavior, and relationships—and they look at some of the downsides of empathy.

Comments [18]

The Stuff That Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made Of

Friday, April 11, 2014

On this week's Please Explain, we'll find out what goes on inside our brains as we sleep.

Comments [26]

Every Night I'm Shufflin'

Friday, April 04, 2014

Insomnia, snoring, restless leg syndrome, sleepwalking. A lot of things can prevent us from getting good sleep. Find out what causes sleep disturbances — and how to treat them.

Comments [20]

Please Explain: Arthritis

Friday, March 28, 2014

More than 40 million Americans have arthritis, and it's the leading cause of disability for people who are 65 and older. Almost everyone over 70 has some form of arthritis, but it can affect much younger people too. Dr. Clark Smith, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, explains what causes arthritis and how to treat it.

Comments [29]

Please Explain: Medical Marijuana

Friday, March 21, 2014

Medical marijuana is legal in 20 states, and is used to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis, AIDS, side effects of chemotherapy, as well as pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, insomnia, and anxiety. Dr. Igor Grant, Distinguished Professor and Executive Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine and Director of the UC Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, tells us about his research into the possible utility of cannabis compounds in the amelioration of certain severe manifestations of disease. And Jim Rendon, author of Supercharged: How Outlaws, Hippies, and Scientists Reinvented Marijuana, talks about the changing attitudes toward marijuana and how the increasing acceptance of medical marijuana is changing the legal and commercial landscape.

Comments [18]

Please Explain: Glaciers

Friday, March 14, 2014

During the last ice age, glaciers covered the entire northern part of our continent, shaping mountains and carving valleys. Today, most of the earth's glaciers are found in Antarctica and Greenland, but there are glaciers on every continent, including Africa, most commonly above the snow line. Tim Creyts, a glaciologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Earth Institute, Columbia University, explains what glaciers are, how they move and sculpt the landscape, and how climate change is affecting glaciers around the world.

Comments [6]

How Sitting Too Much is Reducing Your Lifespan

Friday, March 07, 2014

Research shows that sitting for more than 2 hours a day is directly linked to health problems, and people who sit all day don't live as long. So how about a program of chairlessness?

Comments [59]

Please Explain: Hypnosis

Friday, February 28, 2014

"We are in trances – every single one of us – every single day."

Comments [16]

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

“We can’t reason with cats,” but maybe we can understand them. Hear a little bit of history on domestic cats and how you can be more feline-friendly.

Comments [45]

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]