Great scientists, great moustaches IV (a Movember posting)


In our 4th instalment of this series celebrating male top lip grooming, the dizzying and intoxicating variety of facial hair, and the brilliance of the people sporting it, we once again take a look at some great minds, and the moustaches that went (just) before them.

Links at the bottom of the page to parts I, II, III and V…


Name: Albert Einstein
Known for: General theory of relativity, special theory of relativity, photoelectric effect, theory of Brownian motion, mass-energy equivalence (E=mc2)…should we keep going? “Einstein” has become synonymous with “genius”, and his pop culture impact exceeds that of any other scientist.
Moustache: The most famous moustache in science? Einstein has a Chevron moustache of the classic type, a full growth that completely covers his top lip, and extends pasts the edges of his mouth.
Moustache rating: 6/10. It might be one of the famous moustaches of all time, but it’s actually not one of the greatest. Einstein might be remembered with his moustache, but he’s revered for his hair – the template for mad scientists ever since. His moustache also got noticeably more ragged with age, contributing to his dishevelled appearance but not really winning any fashion plaudits.


Name: Albert Michelson
Known for: His work on the speed of light, astronomical inferometry, the Michelson-Morley experiment which basically killed off the aether theory, founding the physics department at the University of Chicago. Gravitational waves are detected using a Michelson inferometer.
Moustache: Handlebar, covering the top lip, and with long styled ends that are curved elegantly upwards.
Moustache rating: 9/10. The other Albert in the 2020 list might be less well-known than Einstein, but he KO’s his namesake in the grooming stats. This is an immaculately maintained ‘tache the combines abundant growth with pinpoint control. In later life he took to wearing a chevron, but it’s the handlebar which represents his best work in the facial hair arena.


Name: Dennis Gabor
Known for: The invention of holography. Yup, you have him to thank for holograms. Tupac couldn’t have performed at the 2012 Coachella festival were it not for Gabor (ok, ok, so it wasn’t actually a hologram, but anyway…).
Moustache: Pyramid moustache, worn thin, and grown all the way up to the nostrils. Corners of the mouth shaved.
Moustache rating: 6/10. Smart and unfussy, but the precise lines and close cropping tell you that there’s more maintenance going into this than first meets the eye.

Physics_Nikolay Semyononv.jpg

Name: Nikolay Semyononv
Known for: His work on chemical transformations, especially chain reactions and combustion processes.
Moustache: Another pyramid, close-cropped, with the top lip and edges of the mouth completely free.
Moustache rating: 7/10. Gentle eyes, movie star looks, and a sensual mouth are complemented by a magnificent bit of facial topiary. This is a pyramid to rival those of Ancient Egypt.



Name: Gilbert Newton-Lewis
Known for: Discovering the covalent bond, the concept of electron pairs, his definition of acids and basis. And he invented the term “photon”. Nominated for the Nobel Prize 41 times without ever actually winning.
Moustache: Walrus. A large, bushy growth that completely covers the upper lip, and extending just beyond the corners of the mouth.
Moustache rating: 7/10. A voluminous accessory that adds more forcefulness and solidity to Lewis’ somewhat shy expression.

Screenshot 2020-11-22 at 23.57.15

Name: Alfred Werner
Known for: His work on transition metal complexes, developing the basis of coordination chemistry, being the first inorganic chemist to win the Nobel prize.
Moustache: Handlebar, rough cut and with the ends only just pointing upwards. Werner converted it from a the Hungarian he wore as a younger man and at one point also sported a competitive Walrus. The full growth of the Handlebar the completely obscures the upper lip. With thicker edges and more upward pull it would be a traffic-stopping Imperial, but Werner just about reins it in.
Moustache rating: 8/10. Wild, slightly unkempt, and visually complemented by the scraggly eyebrows, Werner’s moustache hints at the psychological disturbance latent in his otherwise respectable appearance (he died in a psychiatric hospital).


Name: Archer John Porter Martin
Known for: development of partition chromatography and invention of gas chromatography.
Moustache: Could technically be classified as a Pyramid, but the angled styling of the corners and the fuller width at the top suggests it’s actually a petite Lampshade. Cropped but still medium growth, and with top lip kept clear.
Moustache rating: 4/10. It’s not a bad moustache per se, but in style terms it’s a bad choice of moustache. The narrowness of the moustache pinches the lower half of Martin’s face, and the large spectacles draw the eyes upwards and towards the thicker head of hair rather than towards the mouth. He needs a different haircut or a different ‘tache, as the two don’t go together.


Name: Otto Diels
Known for: The Diels-Adler reaction, a means of synthesising 6-carbon rings and later applied to the production of synthetic rubber and plastics.
Moustache: Pyramid, immaculately presented. Beautiful clean diagonal line from the centre of the nose to the corners of the mouth, close-cropped, and with the top lip delicately exposed.
Moustache rating: 7/10. Diels shows Martin how things should be done, with an exquisite choice of moustache to complement his short haircut. The razor-sharp side parting finds a visual echo in the trigonometric neatness of the moustache, both combining to create an impression of power held in reserve.




Name: Rolf Zinkernagel
Known for: Discovery of the killing mechanism of cytotoxic T cells.
Moustache: Painter’s Brush, and a textbook example of one. Not too thick, but covering the full width of the mouth and with rounded corners.
Moustache rating: 7/10. A great example of how to make a fairly close-cropped moustache work with a full head of hair. Zinkernagel’s ample growth on top is discreetly acknowledged by the full width of this ‘tache, but the lighter colour and the more focused grooming draws the eyes downwards, letting them settle on the middle of his penetrating gaze.


Name: Niels Finsen
Known for: Phototherapy
Moustache: Chevron, and a mighty example of it. Full growth, medium thickness, and with the edges terminating well beyond the corners of the mouth. The top lip is kept clear.
Moustache rating: 8/10. Finsen’s soulful eyes and spiky hair would make him a pin-up even without the moustache, but its presence balances his face and helps emphasise the sensuousness of his lips. The tortured expression but inch-perfect grooming hint at a soul fraying at the limits of self-control. He suffered from Niemann-Pick disease and died aged only 43.

Biology_Thomas Pollard 2014

Name: Tom Pollard
Known for: Actin treadmilling, actin dynamics, cell motility, cytokinesis.
Moustache: Painter’s Brush. Pollard’s moustache covers his entire top lip, but is precisely cropped to prevent dangling hairs and with the whole width of the mouth used. As with Zinkernagel, the moustache provides a nice visual balance to his head hair and invites the viewers’ eyes to settle at his own eye level – invaluable for a noted teacher and communicator.
Moustache rating: 6/10. Unostentatious and unflashy, but well-chosen and as tidy as any of his own classic experiments. The chin stubble adds a slightly rakish frontier look, hinting at a less rigid demeanour than the careful grooming might otherwise imply.


Name: Charles Donovan
Known for: Discovering Leishmania donovani, the causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis.
Moustache: Handlebar. Full growth, long ends pointed upwards, and with the centre of the top lip carefully groomed.
Moustache rating: 10/10. The hair and the eyes point indefatigably forwards, while the moustache rakes downwards. Donovan looks in repose here, but the Handlebar’s flying ends speak for the adventurous spirit within. A moustache to take on the world with. This is the look Tom Hardy was aiming for in “Taboo”.
The charity fund-raising bit:
Mental health is something that TIR takes seriously, and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on mental health are already well-documented. The Movember Foundation works to reduce the incidence of mental illness, suicide, prostate cancer and testicular cancer in men the world over. Each year, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas grow a moustache for the month of November in order to raise awareness of these issues and collect donations to fund their treatment. To sponsor TIR writer Brooke Morriswood, click HERE – huge thanks in advance!

Links to parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series:
Great scientists, great moustaches, Part I – click HERE.
Great scientists, great moustaches, Part II – click HERE.
Great scientists, great moustaches, Part III – click HERE.
Great scientists, great moustaches, Part V – click HERE.


7 thoughts on “Great scientists, great moustaches IV (a Movember posting)

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