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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: Credit Ratings

Friday, May 11, 2012

This week we'll find out about credit reports and credit scores and how to manage them effectively. Jeffrey Blyskal, senior editor of  Consumer Reports, joins us to explain how they work and what they mean. 

If you have a question, call 212-433-9692 or leave a comment below. 

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Please Explain: Bioluminescence

Friday, May 04, 2012

John Sparks, associate curator and curator-in-charge, department of Ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History, and David Gruber, assistant professor at the City University of New York and a research associate at the museum, discuss the variety of bioluminescent organisms—from fungus to dinoflagellates to jellyfish—and explain the various ways they glow, the functions of bioluminescence, and how scientists study it. The exhibition Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence is on view at the American Museum of Natural History through January 6, 2013.

Comments [9]

Please Explain: Lobbying

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's estimated that over $3 billion was spent on lobbying efforts last year. On this week's Please Explain, Alex Blumberg from NPR's Planet Money describes how lobbying works, the role that all that money plays in politics, and what kind of influence that money buys. Call us at 212-433-9692 with your questions, or leave them in a comment below!

Comments [20]

Please Explain: Movie Special Effects

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dr. Doug Roble, the Creative Director of Software at Digital Domain, the multiple Academy Award-winning visual effects studio in Venice, California, talks about the history of special effects in filmmaking and explains the art and science of creating them.   

Comments [17]

Please Explain: Deep Sea Exploration

Friday, April 13, 2012

David Gallo, Director of Special Projects at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, talks about the mission to map the Titanic wreck, and other underwater expeditions, such as the search for Air France flight 447. He explains how scientists explore the ocean and what they’ve found.

Comments [8]

Please Explain: Satellites

Friday, April 06, 2012

For this week's Please Explain, Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Boston, and Laura Grego, senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, tell us how satellites are designed, launched, and how they to make things like GPS and cable television possible. 

Comments [10]

Please Explain: Bullying

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bullying is commonplace in schools, but in recent years cyber-bullying, suicides, and school shootings have shown bullying to be a very serious issue. On this week’s Please Explain we’ll find out what constitutes bullying and aggression among children (and adults), its repercussions, and how parents, children, and schools should address it. We’re joined by Elizabeth Englander, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University, and Jessie Klein, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Adelphi University, and author of The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools.

Comments [49]

Please Explain: Anxiety and Benzodiazepenes

Friday, March 23, 2012

Please Explain is all about the anti-anxiety medications benzodiazepenes. Psychologist Dr. Douglas Mennin and Lisa Miller, contributing editor at New York magazine, whose article “Listening to Xanax” appears in the March 26 issue of the magazine, explain how they work and why they’re addictive.

Comments [49]

Please Explain: The Science of Taste

Friday, March 16, 2012

Barb Stuckey, professional food developer and author of Taste What You're Missing: The Passionate Eater's Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good, explains the science of taste, and shows how our individual biology, genetics, and brain create a personal experience of everything we taste.

Comments [21]

Please Explain: Norovirus

Friday, March 09, 2012

Please Explain is all about the Norovirus, which is the leading cause of outbreaks of food-borne illness. We'll speak with Dr. Aaron Margolin and Dr. Christine Moe.

 

 

Comments [53]

Please Explain: The Subway

Friday, March 02, 2012

This week’s Please Explain takes a look at something familiar (yet still mysterious) to every New Yorker: the subway. John Tauranac, architecural historian and designer of city and transit maps, and Andrew Sparberg, former Long Island Railroad manager and director of the railroad technology program at Technical Career Insitutes, talk about how the subway was built and how it transformed the metropolitan area.

Comments [16]

Please Explain: How to Save the World—World Peace

Friday, February 24, 2012

This week's Please Explain is the final installment of our series How to Save the World. Jeffrey Sachs discusses whether it's possible to achieve world peace. He's Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. His most recent book is The Price of Civilization.

 

Comments [26]

Please Explain: How to Save the World—Food Security

Friday, February 17, 2012

This week's Please Explain continues our series How to Save the World. Glenn Denning, Director, Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and J. Matthew Roney, Research Associate, Earth Policy Institute, examine the global food supply.

Comments [27]

Please Explain: How to Save the World—the Future of Garbage

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wherever humans go, they leave trash behind. The average American throws away over 1,130 pounds of waste per year. On this week’s Please Explain, we continue our series How to Save the World, looking at how we dispose of garbage, how recycling and composting and smaller packaging can cut down on the amount of garbage people throw away around the world, and how garbage can be used as a renewable, green energy source. Joining us are Nickolas J. Themelis, Director, Earth Engineering Center, and professor in the School of Engineering at Columbia University, and Elizabeth Royte, author of Garbage Land and Bottlemania.

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Please Explain: How to Save the World—Climate Change and How to Stop It

Friday, February 03, 2012

This week’s Please Explain, the third in our series How to Save the World, is about climate change and how to stop it. David Archer, professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, and author of The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of the Earth’s Climate, and Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast; and Klaus Lackner, Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University’s Earth Institute join us to talk about carbon in the atmosphere, how and why it is causing climate change, and how to slow or stop climate change by using sustainable energy and carbon sequestration.

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Please Explain: How to Save the World—Population Growth and Control

Friday, January 27, 2012

This week's Please Explains is the second in our series on how to save the world—ways to approach complex global problems such as climate change, food supply, garbage disposal, the global water supply, and violence. Today we're looking at the population explosion—there are now 7 billion people on the planet. We're joined by Hania Zlotnik, director of the population Division at the Department of Economics and Social Affairs at the United Nations, and Dr.Joel E. Cohen, mathematical biologist and the head of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University and Columbia University, and author of How Many People Can the Earth Support?

Comments [21]

Please Explain: How to Save the World—The Global Water Supply

Friday, January 20, 2012

We're kicking off a series of Please Explains on how to save the world—ways to approach complex global problems such as climate change, food supply, garbage disposal, population control, and violence. Today's topic is how to protect the world's water supply. Upmanu Lall, Director of the Columbia Water Center, and Sandra Postel, founder of the Global Water Policy Project and National Geographic Freshwater Fellow join us to discuss the state of fresh water around the globe.

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Please Explain: Tuberculosis

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases—accounting for 9.4 million cases and 1.7 million deaths in 2009, according to the WHO. Maryn McKenna, science journalist and author of Superbug, and Dr. Neil Schluger, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University Medical Center and Chief Scientific Officer for the World Lung Foundation, give us a history of the disease, how it spreads, why it’s so hard to treat, and how drug-resistant TB has emerged and what it means for the future of treating the deadly disease.

Comments [27]

Please Explain: Hoarding

Friday, January 06, 2012

Almost everyone has closets full of stuff, favorite mementos, and expanding collections of books or shoes or spices or hotel shampoos. But sometimes our emotional attachments to stuff can spiral out of control, and people become not just pack rats but compulsive hoarders. Dr. Robin Zasio, therapist who specializes in treating hoarding and other anxiety-related disorders, explains what compulsive hoarding is and how to treat it. She’ll also give advice about how to live a less-cluttered, better-organized life. She’s the author of The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life.

Comments [57]

Please Explain: Willpower

Friday, December 23, 2011

New York Times science writer John Tierney , co-author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, talks about self-control. He's joined by Dr. Walter Mischel, Niven Professor of Humane Letters in Psychology, Columbia University. They'll explain how to build willpower and how conserve it for crucial moments.

Comments [16]