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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

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 [9]

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.

Comments [19]

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.

Comments [4]

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.

Comments [2]

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. 

Comments [13]

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. 

Comments [3]

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.

Comments [9]

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]

Neil deGrasse Tyson Gives Dark Matter a New Name: 'Fred'

Friday, April 17, 2015

The astrophysicist and host of National Geographic Channel's 'StarTalk' answers questions about the cosmos, like "Does a black hole look like a black hole?"  

Comments [28]

The Sweet Adelines and The Lustre Quartet Explain The Barbershop Quartet!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Members of The Sweet Adelines and the Lustre Quartet join us for this week's Please Explain, which is all about barbershop quartets! 

Comments [12]

Protecting Frogs from Extinction

Friday, April 03, 2015

In 2009, a frog was discovered in a rain forest in Ecuador that changed its skin texture from smooth to spiky, and in 2014, a new species of frog was found in Staten Island. 

Comments [5]

Pesticides, Produce, and Your Health

Friday, March 27, 2015

This week's Please Explain is all about the pesticides used in agriculture, their health effects, and whether buying organic matters.

Comments [27]

A Baby Plant in a Box... With its Lunch

Friday, March 20, 2015

Today, seed plants make up about 90 percent of the world's flora. But that wasn't always the case.

Comments [7]

From Sideshow to the Big Top: The History of the Circus

Friday, March 13, 2015

Daily life once ground to a halt when the circus rolled into town. Banks closed, schools canceled classes, and factories shut down so that everyone could go to the show.

Comments [6]

So Close to Humans, So Far Extinct

Friday, February 27, 2015

Around 60,000 years ago, humans migrated out of Africa. But, they were not alone. Neanderthals play an important role in the story of human evolution.

Comments [14]