University of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin is the author of The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People. Before talking about what the origins of the universe tell us about life on earth, he talked Coldplay, boozing, and head butts in the Zócalo green room.
What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
Coldplay, “Vida La Vida.”
What’s the coldest place you’ve ever been?
I work up in the Canadian Arctic. That’s pretty cold—summer in the Arctic.
What promise to yourself do you break most often?
Not to drink. Alcohol.
If you could be any dinosaur, which would you choose?
Pachycephalosaurus. A big, bony-headed guy. Because they get to butt heads.
How do you relax?
What was your worst subject in school?
It’s your last meal; what do you eat?
Do you have any bumper stickers on your car?
I do—I have one with a “W,” not for George W. Bush but for the town of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where we have a cottage. It’s an oyster with a “W” on it, but everyone thought it was George W. Bush, so I had a lot of people yelling at me in Chicago.
Are you good at keeping secrets? If so, who can vouch for you?
Yes. Nobody, because I keep secrets.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Time with my kids.