Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Science and the Gray Hair issue

The prestigious Weizman Institute of Science, located in the israeli city of Rehovot, has a vast, beautiful campus with about a 100 buildings and hundreds of scientists, technicians, and research students. The institute focuses on all the major sciences: chemistry, biochemistry, biology, physics, math , computer science - and encourages both basic and multidisciplinary research.

Main gate to Weizmann Institute of Science

In October 2009, Prof. Ada Yonath, director of the Structural Biology Department received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (along with two other scientists, an american and a british) for her achievements in the study of the structure and function of the ribosome (a part of the cell that synthesizes protein and translates the information of the DNA). Naturally, she was invited by the Media to tell about her research and her feelings of being the first israeli woman to get a Nobel Prize.

Prof. Ada Yonath

Ribo... what? asked the man in the street.
Strangely, Ms. Yonath's appearances on TV interviews, elicited discussions (especially among women at the mall/ the hairdresser's/ the park ) on her... gray hair rather than on her scientific achievements; the bottom line suggesting that as a woman scientist she should perhaps devote some of her research time to finding out ways to prevent or 'cure' the phenomenon of gray hair.

Although gray hair is supposedly a sign of wisdom , people do not want this process of graying to happen to them as it makes them look older and can have undesirable effects on their life emotionally, socially, economically. Hence their expectations that science will do some miracle about it.

Well, most people don't know much about science, scientists, scientific projects, the priorities and the financing of these projects. What they do know is that there are lots of "breakthroughs" (for which scientists are awarded prizes) that are turned into drugs which may or may not help alleviate suffering - but few real preventive or curative solutions to age related problems.


  1. The people my dear friend, does not see the essence!
    This wonderful woman, fighting for science. Not interested in her hair-color.
    Moreover, it is very charming with gray hair!
    Many greetings

  2. "most people don't know much about science"

    Most people here in the states don't know squat about much let alone science. But if science is involved those in congress and in much of the media choose to dismiss science and mathematics.

    Sure as hell know all bout dem reality shows though.

  3. One Fly is right; most of my countrymen and women just want a quick fix for all of life's little problems and don't give a hoot about the science behind it.

    As for gray hair; my beard started turning gray when I was in my mid 40s and now that I'm pushing 60 my hair has decided to follow suit at a remarkable pace. I don't pay much attention to it when I look in the mirror but seeing a recent photo of myself always makes me pause and think "Man, am I getting old!" As long as I'm still above ground and drawing breath I wouldn't care if my hair turned green or purple.......just not pink!

  4. Not 15 minutes before I read your post, I read this: Prov 16:31 "Gray hair is a crown of glory;
    it is gained in a righteous life."

    My hair is decidedly gray. I colored it for a while, but the time and expense were not worth the impermanent results. I am 61, I am supposed to have gray hair, why should I pretend otherwise?

  5. magda,

    You mean these peple are superficial; well you're right about that. By the way, I think,the gray hair adds a lot of charm to the woman scientist in the picture.

    One Fly,

    Sadly, politicians everywhere, tend to ignore scence. The world would be a better place if scientific facts and warnings were given proper consideration.

    Chip "Rocket Man" Allen,

    "a quick fix...for life's problems" - how true!
    Thanks for sharing your honest view on hair color and on what is important to you in life.


    I like your attitude. And ,of course, you're right about the time, expenses and impermanent results involved in hair coloring.

  6. Of course that's true Duta but here many are proud of their ignorance.

  7. Another informative post with an rather funny twist. I imagine greying hair is the least of the scientist communities however we lay people would notice her hair. For years I dyed mine red but then I just accepted the fact and went natural. Peace

  8. It sounds so ridiculous, when people focus not on someones (wolrdwide important) achievements, but rather on their style or Hair-do! Seriously, it saddens me. :(

  9. Duta, She looks beautiful with her gray hair.
    But it's a sad thing when people focus on her gray hair rather than her scientific achievements.

    Another thoroughly interesting post!
    Thank you!
    Always learning something new when I come here.

    Margie :)

  10. One Fly,

    "proud of their ignorance" - that's sad . It's also rather dissappointing, in view of the fact that people outside the USA have quite a high opinion about american people.

    Lady Di Tn,

    Go natural - that's the best advice one could give. Even if someone decides to color her/his hair , it's possible to use extracts of natural plants such as Henna, and not chemicals.


    Women...(sigh). Let's face it , it's our women sisters that choose to gossip on another woman's looks rather than on her achievements.

  11. You make a good point with science and gray hair. True drugs are invented more often....

  12. Wow. What an intersting dicussion we got going on here. I enjoyed the comments as well as the post.

    Prof. Yonath is beautiful and smart which makes her a role model, and thus, she will be the subject of all sorts conversations.

    It is too bad we can't focus on the project, but I even heard someone comment that superman looked better without his glasses, so what the heck you gonna do.

    I found my first grey cluster this week. So far, I think it looks pretty cool. I look years smarter already. hehe.

  13. What we do not understand we reject or criticize.
    Personally, I like gray hair.

  14. Margie,

    Yes, she does. And I agree with you on the sad part (people focusing on appearance rather than on substance).

    Kim @ Stuff ,

    I suppose by true drugs you mean those drugs that are expected to ease pain and save life, not drugs to treat cosmetic problems.

    Tanya Reimer,

    Welcome to my little blog and thanks for your kind words!
    Enjoy your first "grey cluster". I'm sure you look great with it, not only smarter.


    In men, gray hair is supposed to add distinction, so they accept it. In women it's less welcomed. Most women wish, first of all, to look young and beautiful and only next, smart and distinguished.

  15. An accomplished woman, who maybe has more important things on her mind than the color of her hair. It's refreshing to find a woman in the spotlight, who doesn't give in to society's norms and expectations. She has a lot to be proud of, unlike those who challenge her for her hair color.

  16. I'm very impressed with this lady's scientific contributions. I don't care one whit about the color of her hair, and I'll bet she doesn't either. Good for her. We have strange values when we do not consider intelligence and wisdom to be as beautiful as youth.

  17. She is who she is, and it is a shame that in our 'modern' world one's appearance is often taken more notice of rather one's achievements.

  18. Bica,

    I guess those commenting on the gray colour of her hair were actually thinking of their own hair's colour - wishing her as a scientist to find out something to stop the graying process.


    I'm sure these people do appreciate her scientific contributions. It's just that their priority in life is the research of the graying phenomenon before that of the ribosome.


    It's a shame indeed. However , I think nobody's surprised by that, as our modern society puts much emphasis on youth and beauty.

  19. Although in essence I agree with Dimple, the time has arrived for me to think about things like this. I mix in a variety of circles where values and thoughts greatly differ. It seems that whether we dye our hair or possibly take drugs that may be available in the future, there are going to be side effects or consequences and we can't get away from the fact that our gene was predetermined. I am still looking at what my step is though next.

  20. J_on_tour@jayspaze,

    Unlike women, most men, I think, don't tend to dye their hair, but as you seem to imply - it ultimately depends on one's millieu and genetics.

  21. Fantastic woman!
    She looks lovely even with gray hair.
    Happy weekend my friend.


  22. Add me to the list of the graying. I'm letting my beard grow out right now just to see what color it is. Oh well, like they say, old age is the only disease for which we don't wish the cure.

  23. She is an impresive scientist. I browsed the papers she published and she has published a lot!

    About the gray hair...at first I was getting angry at people to seemed to care so much about their look and didn't apreciate the fact that they are healthy, but now I am preparing my graduation thesis and I started doing some research on how skin disease impacts the quality of life, and I was shocked by the results.
    People care so much about skin and hair!
    So now I am realizing that even if it sounds superficial, these things really matter for some people and it will be great to find a cure.

  24. Regina,

    That's my opinion too. In this picture she looks at her best.


    I'm sure you'll look Great with a beard, regardless of its colour.


    GOOD LUCK with your graduation thesis!
    Yes, people do care a lot about their skin and hair, and I totally agree with your comment's closing sentences.

  25. Creative and scientific contributions must always be appreciated! Interesting information.

  26. Indeed, even if we fail to understand the complexity of some of these contributions.

  27. If I had a head of hair as curly and beautiful as Ms. Yonath's I wouldn't worry about finding a cure for gray hair!

    But you are correct that many times cures come out of trying to find causes and cures for other diseases.

    For example, the hair regrowth product Rogaine was discovered when it was used as a medication for High Blood Pressure and was shown to increase hair growth. So they weren't even looking for something to grow hair, they just happened upon it.

    I'm sure it's been like that for many medical discoveries. The scientists just have to keep searching and discovering.

    What a wonderful post about a great campus that provides a place for those scientists! And kudos to Ms. Yonath for her research and for being the first Israeli woman to win a Nobel Prize! Well earned!

  28. Alicia,

    You seem to have some valuable info about hair growth and medical discoveries. It's good to hear from you, Alicia.

  29. Excellent work by providing such a useful method.Can be more attractive if you color it and it looks like younger.We know there's a lot of product about coloring I suggest to for ingredients that observe natural medicine.