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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

The History of Medical Quarantines, and What That Could Mean For Americans Today

Friday, October 31, 2014

On this week's Please Explain, we are talking about the history of and medical and legal guidelines for quarantines.

Comments [9]

Why Do Kids Sext and Is It a Crime?

Friday, October 24, 2014

For this week's Please Explain, Atlantic editor Hanna Rosin discusses teen sexting, the pervasive trend of sending naked pictures of themselves and their peers on their cell phones.

Comments [9]

Where Does the Word Ketchup Come From? And Other Questions on the Language of Food

Friday, October 17, 2014

For this week’s Please Explain, linguist Dan Jurafsky tells us about the language of food—from the origins of ketchup to the words we use to describe food.

Comments [5]

Many Varieties of Seeds Are Becoming Extinct. Meet Two People Who Are Bringing Them Back.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Decades ago, as agriculture became centralized, seeds were selected for yield, and many varieties nearly went extinct.

Comments [8]

How to Be a Restaurant Reviewer

Friday, October 03, 2014

Pete Wells, New York Times restaurant critic, and Sam Sifton, the New York Times food editor and former restaurant reviewer, explain the ins and outs of being a restaurant critic.

Comments [8]

Mercury Rising: Which Fish - and How Much - Is Safe to Eat

Friday, September 26, 2014

Eating too much fish could mean consuming too much mercury. On this week's Please Explain, an experts from Consumer Reports tell us which fish is safest, which to avoid.

Comments [15]

Nose-to-Tail Eating

Friday, September 19, 2014

Find out the philosophy behind using the whole animal and how to prepare organ meats, pig's feet, tongue and more.

Comments [26]

How Healthy is a Raw Food Diet?

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's a popular trend in the United States, but there's evidence that the health benefits of many foods can only be unlocked when they're cooked.

Comments [21]

Rice in Culture and Cuisine Around the World

Friday, September 05, 2014

This week's Please Explain is all about rice—from arborio to wehai—how it's grown, prepared, and it's place in culture and cuisine around the globe.

Comments [19]

Alawites to Yazidis: A Guide to Religious Communities in the Middle East

Friday, August 22, 2014

This week's Please Explain is about religious communities in the Middle East—Shia, Sunni, Alawite, Yazidi, and more—and their political conflicts and power struggles.

Comments [22]

How Highways Changed America

Friday, August 15, 2014

Find out how the U.S. highway system was created and how it changed the country by connecting small towns and cities from coast to coast.

Comments [5]

How to Contain and Control the Ebola Outbreak

Friday, August 08, 2014

West Africa is in the midst of the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. For this week's Please Explain, an infectious disease expert talks about where it comes from, how it spreads, and how it can be contained.

Comments [13]

Freeze! Or Can or Pickle!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Learn how to preserve summer fruits, vegetables, and herbs so you can enjoy them all year long.

Comments [7]

What the Sun Does to Your Skin

Friday, July 25, 2014

There really isn’t such a thing as a healthy tan. Here's what's happening to your skin under all that sun — and how to protect yourself.

Comments [33]

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]