Please Explain from WNYC New York Public Radio

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From WNYC, New York Public Radio: Please Explain, where Leonard Lopate and a guest get to the bottom of one complex issue. History, science, politics, pop culture or anything that needs some explanation!More from Please Explain from WNYC New York Public Radio »

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Pesticides, Produce, and Your Health

Urvashi Rangan, Director, Consumer Safety for Sustainability at Consumer Reports, discusses the pesticides used on produce and how they affect our health. She offers advice on how to choose produce, if buying organic is better, and looks at the effects of pesticides on the environment and on pollinators. Consumer Reports has compiled a report on pesticides in produce.

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

Today, seed plants make up about 90 percent of the world's flora. But that wasn't always the case. Today on Please Explain, Thor Hanson, author of The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History, describes the path that seeds have paved through evolution, natural history, and human culture, and examines the traits and habits that have allowed seeds – and the plants that bear them – to be successful, and to transform the planet. Plus, Gerard Lordahl, Greening Director of GrowNYC returns to the show to offer advice on planting seeds at home!

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

A century ago, daily life ground to a halt when the circus rolled into town. Across America, banks closed, schools canceled classes, farmers left their fields, and factories shut down so that everyone could go to the show. But when Ringling Brothers recently announced that they would retire their elephants in 2018, it underscored the dramatic change taking place in the American circus today. Janet Davis is a professor of American studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top. Today, she joins us for Please Explain: The Circus!

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The Touch, The Feel, The Worldwide Domination, of Cotton

The story of cotton is inexorably tied to the story of modern capitalism, a constant?global struggle between slaves and planters, merchants and statesmen, workers and factory owners. On this week's Please Explain, we?dive into how cotton changed history, and how the industry, and the product, reaches our homes today.?Sven Beckert is the author of?Empire of Cotton: A Global History, and?Mike Watson is the?Vice President of Fiber Competition for Cotton Incorporated.

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From 'The Scarlet Letter' to YouTube: Shame Isn't Going Anywhere

As Valentine's Day is right around the corner,?this week's Please Explain segment is all about a common, but perhaps unfortunate feeling that?can creep in around this time: shame.?Jennifer Jacquet discusses her new book?Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool, which flips the stigma of shame on its head. Jacquet argues that shame can be used as a social good. It can?challenge corporations and even governments to change policies and behaviors that are detrimental to the environment. Is Shame Necessary? will be?released on Feb 17.

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Expect 1-3 Feet of Snow... Or Maybe 4 Inches. Predicting Blizzards.

This past Sunday, Mayor Bill De Blasio warned that the impending snowstorm could be?"one of the largest snowstorms in the history of this city." While?New York was spared the worst effects of the storm, blizzards?can be incredibly destructive forces, and accurately?predicting?these snowstorms is crucial,?but?often far more complicated than people realize. For today's Please Explain, we are talking all about blizzards with Andrew Freedman, Science Editor for Mashable?and former?Senior Science writer for Climate Central.?His writing has also appeared in the Washington Post, online at The Weather Channel, and washingtonpost.com, where he wrote a weekly climate science column for the "Capital Weather Gang" blog.?

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What the Future Has in Store for Your Brain

For this week's Please Explain, we're?unraveling the mysteries of the human brain and heading to the?absolute frontiers of neuroscience. We will discuss?the spectacular technological advances that will enable us to map the more than eighty-five billion neurons in the brain, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in understanding the anticipated deluge of data and the prospects for building working simulations of the human brain.

Gary Marcus?is Director of the?NYU Center for Language and Music, and Professor of?Psychology?at New York University.?Ned Block is the?Silver Professor?of?Philosophy,?Psychology?and?Neural Science at New York University. Dr. Marcus's new book, The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists,?features?an essay by Dr. Block arguing that high resolution images of the brain are not sufficient for?a true understanding of the mind.

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Inside The Mind Of An Actor

For this week's Please Explain, we learn about a discipline very close to Martha Plimpton's heart: acting! We will be speaking to?Shonni Enelow, Assistant Professor of Drama and Performance Studies at Fordham University, and?Thalia Goldstein, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pace University. Our guest host, Martha Plimpton, who's currently starring in A Delicate Balance?on Broadway, will also lend her expertise!

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The Science of Studying Eruptions

In September, over 50 people died?during?a volcanic eruption in Japan. Iceland continues to experience its largest?continuous volcanic eruption in centuries.?On this week's Please Explain, we are talking about volcanoes: how are they formed, how dangerous are they, and?how scientists monitor them. We will be joined by?Mika McKinnon, a geophysicist and journalist with the science publication i09, and?David Schneider a USGS Research Geophysicist at the?Alaska Volcano Observatory.

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Central Japan volcano Mt. Ontake erupts

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Firsthand Account of the?Ontake Eruption

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How Do We Keep the Resolutions We Make? Harness The Power of Habits.

In time for New Years resolution-making (and keeping), Charles Duhigg will explain habits, why we form them, and how we can break them.?Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter at The New York Times and author of?The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide and spent over 90 weeks on several New York Times' best seller lists.

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