For a second year running, we take an appreciative look at some great minds, and the moustaches that went (just) before them.
Name: David Wineland
Known for: Using lasers to cool trapped ions, making the first single-atom quantum logic gate, teleporting information in massive particles, building an atomic clock.
Moustache: Horseshoe moustache, featuring full coverage of upper lip and thick downward extensions. Wineland departs from horseshoe orthodoxy by not taking the points all the way to the jawline.
Moustache rating: 9/10. Is there anything this man can’t do? If he hadn’t won the Nobel prize, he’dve been a mighty fine sheriff. As a younger man, he sported one of the finest Walrus moustaches you’re ever likely to see, but in age he’s converted it to the more restrained horseshoe you see now. A classic.
Name: James Franck
Known for: Experimental confirmation of the photoelectric effect and Bohr’s model of the atom, also for his political stance against the Nazi Party, promoting women in physics, involvement in the Manhatten Project, chairing the committee that led to the Franck Report which recommended that atomic bombs not be used on Japanese cities without prior warning.
Moustache: Lampshade moustache, with angled corners and worn long, with extremities going beyond the edges of the upper lip.
Moustache rating: 7/10. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to get right, and Franck – with the fastidious perfectionism of a true experimentalist – gently conveys the understated effort required to produce and maintain this magnificent growth. Over the years he experimented with variations on the painter’s brush and pyramid styles too, befitting his protean career as both scientist and advocate.
Name: Nils Dalen
Known for: Inventing sun valves for lighthouse control, AGA cooker. Blinded himself in an acetylene explosion while testing the maximum pressure one of his devices could withstand.
Moustache: Handlebar, worn coarse and with only minimal styling of the ends.
Moustache rating: 9/10. Dalen’s devil-may-care experimental style extends to his moustache, which acts as a nice contrast to his otherwise staid appearance. It’s a hands-on growth for a restlessly inventive mind.
Name: Louis de Broglie
Known for: Contributions to quantum mechanics, especially the Broglie hypothesis on wave-particle duality.
Moustache: Pyramid moustache, tightly groomed and worn thin.
Moustache rating: 6/10. The luxuriant head hair lets you know he’s choosing this style out of restraint, not a lack of testosterone. Gives the owner a raffish air, befitting his aristocratic blood.
Name: Victor Grignard
Known for: Grignard reaction in organic synthesis.
Moustache: Walrus moustache of the classical type, with both lips entirely obscured.
Moustache rating: 9/10. A Walrus moustache? THE Walrus moustache, more like – this is as definitive an example as you’re likely to find. Grignard’s coiffured scalp is offset by an aggressive, bushy, and overpowering ‘tache of gargantuan proportions. It’s a miracle he didn’t get neck-ache carrying that thing around.
Name: Ahmed Zewail
Known for: Pioneer of femtochemistry, using ultrafast lasers to analyse transition states in chemical reactions. First Egyptian to win a scientific Nobel.
Moustache: Chevron moustache, with neat centre parting and curved ends.
Moustache rating: 7/10. Doesn’t look like much? Look more closely. There’s painstaking, high-precision work that goes into maintaining that exquisite parting and keeping the top line tidy. Zewail’s moustache provides a focal point for his whole face. He’d hold your attention effortlessly.
Name: George de Hevesy
Known for: Discovery of hafnium, development of X-ray fluorescence technique, pioneering use of radioisotopes to study metabolic processes. Also dissolved Max von Laue and James Franck’s gold Nobel Prize medals in aqua regia to prevent them being seized by the Nazis; he precipitated the gold back out of the solution after the war, enabling the medals to be recast (one of the most badass applications of chemical knowledge you’ll ever encounter).
Moustache: Chevron, of the classical type. Covers the top border of the upper lip, with tips extending beyond the edges of the mouth.
Moustache rating: 8/10. It takes guts to even try to grow a moustache when you still look like you’re 12 years old, but we all know de Hevesy didn’t lack courage. And what a triumph it is. The full growth instantly lends his appearance a sobriety and gravitas that his youthful visage simply couldn’t supply on its own.
Name: Hans von Euler-Chelpin
Known for: Alcoholic fermentation and the role of enzymes in the process.
Moustache: Mexican moustache. Full growth, no parting, upper lip entirely obscured, slight downward curl at the edges. Augmented with soul patch of same thickness.
Moustache rating: 7/10. He’d only have to open his mouth to silence a room. Intensity, passion, sensuality, drive – it’s a moustache that belongs on movie posters, terrifically complementing its owner’s forceful vigour.
Name: David Bruce
Known for: Discovery of Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of sleeping sickness in sub-Saharan Africa.
Moustache: Handlebar, with coarse styling of the upturned ends and lower lip partially obscured.
Moustache rating: 7/10. He means business, and his moustache shows it. The full growth tells you his energy, the ragged ends convey his impatience. Not a man to tangle with, under any circumstances.
Name: Christiaan Eijkman
Known for: Discovery of dietary basis of beriberi (vitamin B deficiency), tropical medicine.
Moustache: Hungarian, with natural styling of ends and extended
Moustache rating: 10/10. Eijkmann takes a leaf out of de Hevesy’s book by offsetting his boyish face with some manly growth, but his creation is so batshit crazy you almost wonder if it’s a practical joke. Is he daring you to ask if he glued a dog’s tail to his lip? Inviting you to think you’re hallucinating it? Letting you know he’s a crazy sonofabitch who’ll go loco if you cross him? Whatever his reasons, we salute him.
Name: Leland (Lee) Hartwell
Known for: Use of budding yeast to study the cell cycle, identification of checkpoint proteins. First to unleash “the awesome power of yeast genetics” as we now understand it.
Moustache: Pencil moustache, of unconventional width but with the characteristic thinness and tight grooming along the line of the upper lip.
Moustache rating: 7/10. “Elegant” is a work that gets bandied around a lot with high-grade genetics experiments, and befitting his legendary status in the field Hartwell’s moustache defines it to a “t”. Nothing flashy, but well-maintained and frames attention on his wise and penetrating gaze.
Name: Jules Bordet
Known for: Discovery of effect of complement in human serum, isolation of Bordetella pertussis (causative agent of whooping cough).
Moustache: Pyramid moustache, orthodox type. Extends to the edges of the mouth, slight centre parting and no growth beyond the top lip.
Moustache rating: 6/10. Brisk, brusque, and ready for business. Bordet’s ‘tache emphasises his directness and dynamism.
The charity fund-raising bit:
The Movember foundation is a charity that raises awareness of and supports research into prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, suicide prevention, and other men’s health issues. TIR writer Brooke Morriswood is a regular participant in the annual charity fund-raising each November; if you would like to sponsor him for Movember, please click HERE – many thanks in advance!
For the 2017 edition of “Great Scientists, Great Moustaches” – click HERE.
For the 2019 edition of “Great Scientists, Great Moustaches” – click HERE.