Great scientists, great moustaches VI (a Movember posting)

Are you a moustache fan? To conclude Movember 2022, here’s our annual celebration of some great minds and the great moustaches that went (just) before them. Links to instalments I-V can be found at the end for real moustache aficionados.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Movember Foundation is a charity focused on men’s health issues – prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide prevention, and mental health in particular. “Mo Bros” grow moustaches – sometimes dashing, sometimes daft – for the 30 days of November in order to help raise awareness of these issues. It’s fun, and it’s important. 


Name: Friedrich Paschen 🇩🇪
Known for: The Paschen series, a spectral series of hydrogen that all lie in the infrared band. Also Paschen’s law, that describes the voltage necessary to cause an electric arc (an empirical discovery of his, which makes you wonder how he retained such a long and luxuriant ‘tache). And the Paschen-Beck effect, which governs the splitting of atomic energy levels in a strong magnetic field. There’s no Paschen moustache though, which might be a shame.
Moustache: Hungarian
Moustache rating: 9/10. Hungarians can be wild or tamed, and this one has been styled beautifully. It’s full, it’s imposing, but there’s still an element of control and the ends are styled upwards with aplomb. He may not be wearing a cowboy hat, but this guy would be the sheriff in any room he was present in. Why didn’t he call it a Paschen? Maybe he did.

Name: Lee Young-Hee 🇰🇷
Known for: Director of the Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics in South Korea, research into graphene and other van der Waals layered materials.
Moustache: Chevron
Moustache rating: 7/10. A great example of how a moustache can lend gravitas and balance to a face. Young-Hee’s youthful vitality and friendly expression is offset by the sterner and more manly stylings of the chevron. The silver highlights complement his headhair, drawing your attention to the smiling eyes. Don’t you wish you could have him talk to you on a rainy day? He’d cheer you up in seconds.

Name: Charles Glover Barkla 🇬🇧
Known for: His work on X-ray spectroscopy, refining the laws of X-ray scattering, and what causes the excitation of secondary X-rays. There’s also a crater on the moon named after him. Not to be confused with Baklava, which is a delicious Turkish dessert.
Moustache: Toothbrush 
Moustache rating: 1/10. The moustache that dare not speak its name… In fairness, Barkla also sported a pyramid and a chevron during his long and distinguished facial hair career, but we’re highlighting the toothbrush here to make a point. Yes, Hitler made it unwearable for anyone not attempting a parody, but that overlooks the fact that the toothbrush is actually a crap moustache. When bushy, it still looks timid; when trimmed, it looks insubstantial. It looks like something landed on his lip and needs wiping off. It off-balances the face, so your eyes are left roaming around looking for somewhere to land. It’s irritating. No. Just no.

Name: Hafeez Hoorani 🇵🇰
Known for: His research into Quark-gluon plasma, expertise in the construction of particle accelerators, serving as scientific director of the International Centre for Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science Applications in the Middle East (SESAME), which has nothing to do with Ali Baba.
Moustache: Lampshade
Moustache rating: 6/10. At first glance you might think this is a pyramid or a painter’s brush, but look closely and you’ll see that the corners are shaved and angled. There’s some impressive detail work too, with a clear line visible between the ‘tache and his upper lip. Hoorani crops it unusually thin for a lampshade, but this is a good style choice as it lets the moustache complement rather than compete with his thick head of hair. 


Name: Marcellin Berthelot 🇫🇷
Known for: The Thomsen-Berthelot principle in thermochemistry (later disproved), and the synthesis of loads of organic compounds. Berthelot was so obsessed with chemical synthesis that he reckoned we’d all be synthesising our foods by the year 2000 (which given the state of the fast food industry at the turn of the millennium, may not have been as far off the mark as it sounds).
Moustache: Hungarian
Moustache rating: 5/10. It would be a 9/10 if we were rating him just on growth, given the profusion of hair sprouting from his top lip, but we’re marking Berthelot down on style grounds – it’s a great moustache, but it’s not the right one for him. His downward-facing eyes and the lank hair in a side parting mean that the last thing he needs is an extra gravitational pull towards the floor, but that’s what his Hungarian is doing. If he’d shaved his head or done some crazy styling it would be a different story, but the overall effect is one of somnambulance and torpor.

Name: Masataka Ogawa 🇯🇵
Known for: Thinking he had isolated element 43 (technetium), when in fact he’d probably isolated element 75 (rhenium). He called his element 43 nipponium, but then everybody got embarrassed when they realised it wasn’t 43 after all. The nipponium symbol, Np, later got used for neptunium, meaning that nipponium became off-limits as a name and when element 113 was named in honour of Japan it was called nihonium instead. Confused? You should be. 
Moustache: Walrus
Moustache rating: 8/10. He might have got element 43 wrong, but he got his moustache very right. This is one of the most bruising walrus examples you’ll ever see – full, immaculately groomed, entirely covering the top lip, and just look at the power radiating from it! Together with those strong eyebrows and the neat appearance, Ogawa generates an impression of incredible force held in reserve. He’d only have to whisper and people would be staggering backwards.

Name: Walter Lincoln Hawkins 🇺🇸
Known for: His work in polymer chemistry, especially that leading to the design of the plastic sheath for telephone cables. Spent much of his career at Bell Labs, and was also a tireless advocate for minority students. The first African-American to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
Moustache: Pencil
Moustache rating: 6/10. You could spend a long time debating whether this is a close-cropped pyramid moustache or a more lavishly-grown pencil, and we’re opting for the latter based not only on the tight clipping but also the extent of the shaved region above the top lip. The pencil is arguably the most mischievous of all moustaches, and it’s a great way of lightening faces that might otherwise seem too serious or too heavy. Here, Hawkins’ intense and focused gaze is playfully offset by the arched eyebrows and elegant top lip styling. 

Name: Jnanendra Chandra Ghosh 🇮🇳
Known for: Lots of work on photocatalysis, but he saw the light in a different way, becoming a noted science administrator. His students at Kharagpur were so devoted to him that they went on strike when news of his appointment as Vice chancellor at the University of Calcutta came out.
Moustache: Pyramid, unorthodox
Moustache rating: 6/10. This is a real original. The inverted V shape is more normally associated with pencil moustaches, but Ghosh audaciously grows it out to luxuriant bushiness. The 45-degree angles contrast nicely with the round chubbiness of his youthful face – another reminder that moustaches are a great way for young men to boost their maturity without sacrificing the discipline of maintaining clean-shaven cheeks (think of all those early 20th century fighter pilots). In later years he turned it into a more conventional pyramid but we’re showing it here to illustrate what can be done with a bit of lateral thinking. 


Name: Carlos Chagas 🇧🇷
Known for: Chagas disease. And he didn’t just discover the disease! He described the clinical symptoms, identified and named the pathogen (Trypanosoma cruzi), identified the vector (assassin bugs), its natural reservoir host (armadillos) and teased out the epidemiology. Widely considered to have been robbed of a Nobel Prize, since tons of jackasses from Europe and North America have won it for doing a lot less.
Moustache: Imperial
Moustache rating: 9/10. Even if you weren’t crawling with parasites, you’d still swoon if this guy came to take your pulse. Look at the elegance, the poise, and that irresistible combination of potent masculinity with soulful and sympathetic gravitas. The classic pointed whiskers of the imperial are mirrored by the backcombed hair, giving a lightness and lift to his otherwise steady and composed demeanour. Oh my god, he’s a dream.

Name: Charles Scott Sherrington 🇬🇧
Known for: Coining the word “synapse”, and his work on signal transduction in the early days of neuroscience. It’s kind of ironic in a way, because he looks so staid and composed he probably wouldn’t even sweat if you connected his balls up to a car battery.
Moustache: Pyramid/walrus
Moustache rating: 7/10. Another unorthodox offering. This one is a walrus in terms of its length (covering the top lip) and bushiness, but has been exquisitely styled into a steep pyramid with a very narrow point at the top. It’s a healthy complement to the vigour of his headhair and although it doesn’t enliven his face (walruses seldom do) it places an indelible stamp on it. He’d look a bit drab and dull without it, but with that as a lead, he projects an impression of authority and control.

Name: Ignaz Semmelweis 🇭🇺
Known for: Pioneering antiseptic policy in hospitals. He instigated a policy of hand disinfection in his maternity ward in Vienna, which cut post-natal mortality to below 1% (previously hovering around the horrific levels of 10-20%, due to doctors’ filthy habit of dissecting corpses and then straight afterwards delivering babies). Hounded out of Vienna for his beliefs by the medical establishment of the time (who believed that gentlemen’s hands could never be unclean), he was posthumously vindicated by Pasteur’s germ theory of disease.
Moustache: Walrus
Moustache rating: 4/10. Women might have been beating a path to his maternity ward, but they wouldn’t have been beating a path to his door. His scraggly walrus at least matches his scraggly mullet, but neither is a look to get the pulse racing. The moustache is simply too bristly to make the walrus work – a nice reminder that not being able to grow a moustache doesn’t mean you can grow every type of moustache.

Name: Fridtjof Nansen 🇳🇴
Known for: Achieving as much in one lifetime as others would do in ten. Did pioneering work in the early days of neurobiology on the nervous system of simple marine animals, made major contributions to oceanography, including the development of technical equipment for polar expeditions, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with refugees on behalf of the League Of Nations. 
Moustache: Handlebar, augmented with soul patch.
Moustache rating: 10/10. Think what a star this guy would be in the social media age – Bear Grylls wouldn’t have a chance if he was up against a ‘tache like that on TV. A rogue handlebar, carelessly styled but grown to the perfect length to balance that intense Nordic gaze. You can tell he spends a lot of time outdoors, and that you could trust him with your life if you had to. If he’d been around when they made “Blade Runner”, he’dve been a shoo-in to be the Replicant leader, Roy. 

More moustaches here! (the other postings in the series)
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

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