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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: Wool

Friday, December 17, 2010

This cold weather has caused many of us to pull out our wool sweaters for extra warmth, and for this week’s Please Explain we’re talking about wool—and the process of gathering and using wool, from the sheep to the sweater! Clara Parkes, author of The Knitters Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber and The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn, and Dr. Christopher Lupton, Professor, The Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, join us to discuss the subject.

Comments [30]

Please Explain: Sustainable Seafood and Seafood Safety

Friday, December 10, 2010

Our latest Please Explain is all about seafood—how it’s harvested, what sustainable fishing entails, and how fish gets from the sea to your plate. We're joined by Sheila Bowman,  senior manager of outreach and education, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, and Dr. Gina Solomon, who is both a medical doctor and a senior scientist with Natural Resources Defense Council.

Comments [22]

Please Explain: Espionage

Friday, December 03, 2010

Today's Please Explain looks at spying, the organizations that do it, and how it's carried out and why. We're joined by Thomas S. Blanton, from George Washington University National Security Archives, and Joseph Weisberg, former CIA operative and author of An Ordinary Spy.

Comments [8]

Please Explain: Health Care Reform

Friday, November 19, 2010

President Obama's health care reform has been seen as too much intervention by some and not enough of an overhaul by others, but few people know exactly what the new law includes and how it changes health care and health insurance in this country. On this week's Please Explain, Washington Post correspondent T. R. Reid explains the ins and outs, the costs and the savings, of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He's the author of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.

Comments [47]

Please Explain: Food Myths

Friday, November 12, 2010

Harold McGee discusses and debunks myths about food and cooking for today's Please Explain. He’s the author of Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes.

Comments [25]

Please Explain: Running

Friday, November 05, 2010

The New York City Marathon is this Sunday, and thousands of runners will be racing through all five boroughs. On today's Please Explain, we'll find out what’s involved with completing the marathon’s 26.2 miles. David Willey, Editor-in-Chief of Runner's World magazine and Charlie Butler, executive editor of Runner's World and co-author of The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter's Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete, join us now to talk about how runners race, train, deal with injuries, and how regular people can start running for exercise.

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Please Explain: Procrastination

Friday, October 29, 2010

Putting thing off until the last minute is a compulsion many people share. On this week’s Please Explain, Dr. George Ainslie, Professor of Psychiatry at University of Cape Town, in South Africa, and Dr. Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University, tell us what causes us to procrastinate, how it affects productivity, and methods for ending procrastination. Dr. Ferrari is the author of Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done. Dr. Ainslie is the author of Breakdown of Will and Picoeconomics.

Comments [37]

Please Explain: Dating Etiquette

Friday, October 22, 2010

If you've ever wondered how long you should wait before asking for a second date, or if it's acceptable to split the check, or whether or not you should declare that you are in a relationship on Facebook, today's Please Explain will provide some answers. Thomas P. Farley and Diane Gottsman discuss the etiquette of dating.

Comments [32]

Please Explain: Psychedelic Drugs

Friday, October 15, 2010

Please Explain takes a look at LSD and psychedelic drugs. Dr. Nicolas Langlitz, assistant professor of Medical Anthropology at the New School, and Dr. Stephen Ross, Assistant Professor at NYU Medical Center, Departments of Psychiatry and In-Patient Service, explain how psychedelic drugs affect the brain, how hallucinogens work, and new research into therapeutic uses for psychedelic drugs.

Comments [32]

Please Explain: Tipping

Friday, October 08, 2010

Doling out 15 percent of the check to the waiter is standard, but how much should you tip cab drivers and hairdressers?  Today’s Please Explain is all about tipping. Milla Bloch and Diane Gottsman explain how much to give, to whom, and where tipping comes from.

Do you have different tipping methods based on service? Do you tip a cab driver the same way you tip a waitress or a hairdresser?

Current and former waiters: do you tip more generously than others?

Comments [95]

Please Explain: Rubber

Friday, October 01, 2010

Rubber is all around us: from sneakers to tires to basketballs. On today’s Please Explain, we'll find out where rubber comes from, how it’s created and used, and how it changed the world. We're joined by John Loadman, analytical chemist and author of  Tears of the Tree: The Story of Rubber--A Modern Marvel, and Joe Jackson, author of The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire.

Comments [8]

Please Explain: Roller Derby

Friday, September 24, 2010

Today’s Please Explain is all about the sport of roller derby, from its earliest roots to its modern day revival. Alex Cohen (aka Axles of Evil) and Jennifer Barbee, the authors of Down and Derby: The Insider's Guide to Roller Derby, stop by our show today. Alex Cohen is a skater and trainer, and also served as the derby consultant/choreographer for Drew Barrymore’s film "Whip It!"

Comments [13]

Please Explain: Soda

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ever since Joseph Priestly discovered how to "impregnate water with fixed air" in the 18th century, carbonated beverages have been ubiquitous. Sodas have been used to cure diseases, fight alcoholism, and spread American culture around the globe. On this week's Please Explain, we’ll find out what soda is, what’s in it, and when it became so popular. We’re joined by Dr. Kelly Brownell, the co-founder and director of the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, and Darcy O'Neil, beverage master and author of the book Fix the Pumps, a history of soda from the 18th century to the present.

Comments [19]

Please Explain: Breakfast Cereal

Friday, September 10, 2010

Today’s Please Explain is all about breakfast cereal. Food historian Andy Smith, the author of Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine, among other books, joins us along with Edwin Chavey, aka Mr. Breakfast, director of the Mr. Breakfast Website and "The Cereal Project," a database of 1,200 cereals made in the United States, to explain what cereals are made of, how truthful health claims made about some are, and how there got to be so many varieties.

Comments [28]

Please Explain: Lyme Disease

Friday, September 03, 2010

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in North America, and the number of reported cases has been steadily climbing over the last decade. We’re joined by Brian Fallon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center, and Dr. Carolyn Britton, associate professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, and chief neurologist for the Lyme research studies conducted by Columbia’s Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center. They’ll discuss how the disease is spread, diagnosed, and treated, and how we can protect ourselves while we’re outside this summer.

Comments [13]

Please Explain: Jet Lag

Friday, August 27, 2010

As summer nears its close, many of us are flying away to get our last taste of summer vacation, but nothing ruins a good jaunt to Europe like a bout of jet lag. In fact, jet lag was once considered such a problem that Congress set up a special unit at NASA devoted to studying the condition. Joining us to explain why jet lag occurs and how we can prevent it are Dr. Kevin Gregory, a former scientist at the NASA Jet Lag Center and the current senior scientist at Alertness Solutions Inc., and Dr. David M. Rapoport, Director of the Sleep Medicine Program at NYU Medical School.

Comments [31]

Please Explain: Canning and Pickling

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wondering what to do with this summer's bounty? This week's Please Explain is all about canning, pickling, and preserving. We're joined by  Katherine Alford, director of the Test Kitchen at The Food Network, and food writer Eugenia Bone.

Comments [14]

Please Explain: Caffeine

Friday, August 13, 2010

This week's Please Explain will answer all of our caffeine-related questions, from whether or not we should drink coffee before we run a marathon to how caffeine differs from other stimulants. Bennett Alan Weinberg, co-author of the book The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug, explains how the world's most popular drug affects us.

Do you have a question about how caffeine affects you? Ask it as a comment!

Comments [35]

Please Explain: Heat Stroke

Friday, August 06, 2010

This summer’s high temperatures have brought headaches and heat advisories. On today’s Please Explain, we’re taking a look at some of the health risks that extreme heat brings—from dehydration to heat stroke. Dr. Susi Vassallo, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, explains how heat affects the body.

Dr. Susi Vassallo  Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center

Comments [19]

Please Explain: Dreams and Nightmares

Friday, July 30, 2010

Deirdre Barrett, assistant clinical professor of psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Department, and Rosalind Cartwright, professor Emeritus in the Division of Neuroscience at Rush University Medical Center, discuss how dreams are studied, what they reveal about us, and what therapies can treat nightmares and other disorders. Dr. Barrett's latest book is Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose, and she's the editor of Trauma and Dreams, and the author of The Committee of Sleep, and Rosalind Cartwright is the author of The Twenty-four our Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives.

Comments [24]