Page 3.14

This time around, we’re talking to Carl Zimmer of The Loom.

What’s your name?
Carl Zimmer

What do you do when you’re not blogging?
Write magazine articles, books, and various other pieces of dead-tree media. Or investigate anthills with my daughters.

What is your blog called?
The Loom

What’s up with that name?
It’s one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books, Moby Dick. The cabin-boy Pip has fallen into the ocean and sees more than he can handle:

“…among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters, heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad.”

How long have you been blogging, anyway?
Three years.

Where are you from and where do you live now?
Born in Connecticut and returned there three years ago.

Would you describe yourself as a working scientist?
Working science writer. I try to explain that to people who write to me desperate for medical advice.

Any educational experiences or degrees you’d like to mention?
Degree in English, and lots of on-the-job training at my first science writing job, at Discover.

What are your main academic interests, in or out of your field?
Biology’s my game–anything that evolves.

The last book you read?
I’ve got two open on the desk: Life on Other Worlds, for my next book, and Mr. Bloomfield’s Orchard, a wonderful book about mushrooms and other fungi. We’re being overrun by stinkhorns.

What is your idea of a perfect day?
Turning a lousy rough draft into something I’m not ashamed to show my wife.

What’s your greatest habitual annoyance?
Lousy rough drafts.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Leopold Bloom.

Your favorite heroes in real life?
Doctors Without Borders

What’s your most marked characteristic?
You’d have to ask someone on the outside, looking in.

What’s your principal defect?
A weakness for the grotesque.

What quality do you admire most in a person?
Wanting to know more.

Who are your favorite writers?
John McPhee, Mark Twain, and a shelf full of others.

What would you like to be?
Maybe a leatherback turtle. Just for a day.