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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: 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.

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Please Explain: Coffee

Friday, December 06, 2013

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Please Explain: Candy

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sugary sweets used to be a rare luxury, but these days, it is a cheap, everyday snack. Find out more on the long history of confectionery treats.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Please Explain: Ticks

Friday, August 16, 2013

There are more ticks in more places than ever before, and over the past two decades tick-borne illness has increased, especially in the northeast. Dr. Thomas Mather, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease and its TickEncounter Resource Center, and Dr. Thomas Daniels, Associate Research Scientist and Co-Director of the Vector Ecology Laboratory at Fordham University’s Louis Calder Center, tell us all about ticks, the blood-sucking arachnids that can spread disease and how to protect against tick bites and prevent tick-borne disease.

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Please Explain: Pain Medication

Friday, August 02, 2013

This week we're following up on Please Explain: Pain to find out more about pain killers. Barry Meier, New York Times reporter and author of A World of Hurt: Fixing Pain Medicine’s Biggest Mistake, talks about how pain medications work, how over the counter analgesics compare to prescription pain killers, and the problems of pain killer addiction.

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Please Explain: Sleep Apnea

Friday, July 19, 2013

If you snore loudly and you wake up feeling tired even after a full night's sleep, you may have sleep apnea, is a potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. On this week’s Please Explain two sleep specialists talk about what sleep apnea is and what problems and complications it may cause. We’re joined by Dr. David M. Rapoport, Professor and Medical Director of NYU Sleep Disorders Center; and Dr. Susan Redline is Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Senior Physician, Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Physician, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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Please Explain: How to Complain Effectively

Friday, July 12, 2013

Complaining is a favorite pastime for some people, but it is possible to complain in order to get results and prompt change?

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Please Explain: Sink Holes

Friday, June 28, 2013

After a Florida man disappeared into a sinkhole that swallowed his bedroom, many people began wondering how stable the ground beneath our feet really is. On this week's Please Explain, Randall Orndorff, Director of the USGS Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center, explains what sinkholes are, why they form, where and when they are most likely to occur and how best to prevent them or predict and prepare for them.

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Please Explain: Alzheimer's Disease and New Alzheimer's Research

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dr. Jerome Groopman, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and staff writer for The New Yorker, explains new approaches to Alzheimer’s research for this week’s Please Explain. Three decades of Alzheimer’s research has brought few results in changing the course of the disease, and there have been few developments in drugs to reverse or slow cognitive decline. In his latest article, “Before Night Falls,” in the June 24 issue of The New Yorker, he looks at the potential of new studies.

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Please Explain: Pain

Friday, June 14, 2013

This week we’ll explore how the body perceives pain—what causes it, how it affects us, and how to treat it. We're joined by Dr. Denise Chou, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Columbia University Headache and Facial Pain Center; and Dr. Jing Wang, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, NYU School of Medicine, and director of research and education at NYU Langone’s Center for the Study and Treatment of Pain.

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Please Explain: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition

Friday, June 07, 2013

The America Psychiatric Association’s newly updated and revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the result of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international mental health experts. The DSM is used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders in order to improve diagnoses, treatment, and research. Dr. Michael First, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University and Research Psychiatrist at the Biometrics Department at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, explains how clinicians use the DSM, how it’s put together, and why this edition has been controversial.

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