The first thing that strikes me about Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is how tall he is. Crossing the cafe floor, he walks with the slight hunch of a man well accustomed to bumping his head. For a moment, I wonder if we’ll need a bigger table.
The second thing is how many questions he asks. For a man who seems to know the answer to everything, Karl is remarkably interested in other people. Within 10 seconds of arrival, he’s started quizzing our cameraman about the lens he’s using.
Koko Black was Karl’s choice. Believe it or not, we’re here for scientific purposes. One of the glittering factoids in his new book
The Doctor is that, by virtue of the way they counterbalance their effects on our bodies, coffee and chocolate are designed to be eaten together. Karl jokes this is proof God exists. “And not only does she exist, she wants us to have chocolate every time we drink coffee!”
This afternoon, we do our best to keep Her happy, our chat frequently punctuated by blissed-out silences as we scoff another plate. These are pretty much the only pauses.
As anyone who’s heard him on Triple J knows, Karl likes to talk. More than that, he loves to share his learning. Every topic branches out into six others. Across an hour or so, we cover the Great Fire of London, September 11 conspiracies, fad diets, climate change, bitcoin, gun control, and how Aldi stocks “the weirdest sh**”.
Although he claims not to be particularly smart (his IQ is allegedly 110, “barely above average”), Karl says the urge to share has driven his media career. “I’m micro-famous. That came about because of the free education I got. It’s my duty to pay that back to society.”
Although he berates me for not having a business card, using the “wrong” microphone and dosing my coffee with soy milk, it would be wrong to say Karl is a man with an opinion on everything. He isn’t interested in opinions, just facts. As a trained doctor, he understands the responsibility that comes with doling out knowledge and is quick to admit to several recent errors. But he also claims he isn’t quite as rational a thinker as we might expect.
“I’m irrationally optimistic about the future. I can’t help it. My father, who had been through a couple of concentration camps and survived, was the same. As I told my wife the other day, I’m irrationally happy.”
LOOK OUT FOR … The Doctor by Karl Kruszelnicki, Pan Macmillan. Out now, $34.99
BREW HA HA
- 52 Collins Street, Melbourne
THE VIBE \ Relaxed, with comfy leather armchairs, a jazzy soundtrack and old-fashioned glamour.
THE BREW \ St Ali beans via a La Marzocco machine. A full-bodied cup with delicate high notes that perfectly complement a dozen or so dark chocolates.
THE FOOD \ Koko Black is all about the chocolate, so we did our best to sample the entire range (including the seasonal treats).