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

Why The Pop Music Machine Is Dominated by the Swedes

Friday, October 02, 2015

In our latest Please Explain, 'New Yorker' staff writer John Seabrook unravels how to make musical hits, the business behind them, and what they do to our brains. 

Comments [10]

The Truth Behind "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome"

Friday, September 25, 2015

Americans complaining of "Won Ton Soup Headaches" in the late 1960s gave MSG a bad reputation. But this controversial ingredient can be useful – and delicious – in the kitchen.

Comments [11]

The Art of Dressing A Man

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fashion expert, G. Bruce Boyer catalogs the essentials of an ideal male wardrobe, dispels myths of what men should never wear, and clarifies when to wear what in his latest book. 

Comments [5]

Cockroaches: They've Been Around Forever, And They Aren't Going Anywhere

Friday, August 28, 2015

Our efforts to exterminate these creatures has developed into chemical warfare, but roaches’ basic design has persisted unchanged for millions of years.

Comments [9]

The Birds of New York City

Friday, August 21, 2015

We'll take a guided tour of New York's bird life, neighborhood by neighborhood.

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Eight Armed Mischief: The Deeply Intelligent Octopus

Friday, August 14, 2015

Octopuses are extremely complex creatures. Sy Montgomery has devoted herself to figuring them out: how they learn, how they solve problems — and how they love.

Comments [10]

Why Leave Home After 5,000 Years?

Friday, August 07, 2015

Native tribes lived in the Four Corners region in the American Southwest for millennia. And then: they moved. 

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What is Meat? Changing the Answer Might Change the Planet.

Friday, July 31, 2015

As more studies highlight the environmental impact of meat, some scientists and entrepreneurs are rethinking meat as we know it. 

Comments [10]

A Beginner's Guide To Kosher And Halal Food

Friday, July 24, 2015

There are many rules that govern what is and isn't halal or kosher. Luckily we know a few experts - including a "doctor of pastrami" - who can show us the ropes.

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The Weapon In Your Kitchen

Friday, July 17, 2015

Predating the fork and spoon, the earliest knives were used as weapons. But as our culture developed over the centuries, so did the ways we use our knives.

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Pulling the Perfect Shot

Friday, July 10, 2015

The arrival of the humble espresso radically changed the way people consume caffeine across the world, and on today's Please Explain, we learn all about it.

Comments [8]

Understanding those 4th of July Missiles That Explode Into Colors: Fireworks

Thursday, July 02, 2015

With the 4th of July around the corner, we’ll take a look at the history of fireworks, and what kinds of chemical reactions create those amazing colors and shapes.

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An Everything Guide to Farming and Eating Mussels, Clams, and more

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops are all bivalves with much more to them than just being delicious. We explore their ecosystems, how to farm them, and how to prepare them. 

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The Secrets of Ramen

Friday, June 19, 2015

One of New York's best Ramen chefs shares his secrets, and we learn about the surprising history of the food. 

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The Fats and Oils That Give You the Perfect Meal

Friday, June 12, 2015

For today's Please Explain, we’ll talk cooking with fats and oils. Picking the right cooking oil is crucial when cooking, from pie crusts, to roasting, to sauteing, to cooking a steak.

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From Fast Food to Foie Gras: The Rise of the Burger

Friday, June 05, 2015

The hamburger used to be the symbol of fast food, and all the ills associated with it. But as the movement for fresh, organic, locally sourced food rose, so did the lowly hamburger.

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Unclipping The History Behind Our Office Supplies

Friday, May 29, 2015

Office supplies. Cluttered around your desk, they seem not only indispensable, but universal. But a hidden story lies behind the sticky note, the stapler, and the paper clip.

Comments [13]

Understanding Cults

Friday, May 15, 2015

Cults have been around for thousands of years, but it always seems like they're springing up out of nowhere. What are they? Why do people join? And how do they escape?

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From Lobo to Fido: The Story of Domestication

Friday, May 08, 2015

Evolution is commonly seen as a process that happens in the wild, far away from human involvement. But humans and animals have evolved alongside each other for ages.

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The Human Threats to The Livelihood of Birds

Friday, April 24, 2015

Please Explain this week is all about birds: how human activity is driving several species to extinction, and what some people are doing to try and change that.

Comments [14]