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Mankind's great mysteries -- baldness and Amelia Earhart -- solved?

Amelia Earhart in 1935
Could it be that 21st century technology is about to solve two of mankind’s greatest mysteries:  Why people go bald, and what happened to Amelia Earhart?

I certainly hope so, given the history of male-pattern baldness in my family, not to mention the many times I’ve turned to people at parties and said, “I wonder what really did happen to Amelia Earhart.”

The baldness equation apparently turns out to be quite simple.  My colleague Melissa Healy explained it fully, but here’s the shorthand version (pay attention, there’ll be a quiz later):

The prostaglandin PGD2 is found in large supply in bald spots; the receptor, or cellular landing dock, for PGD2 is called GPR44. Block that receptor and you’ve blocked baldness.

Or, for you math types: PGD2-GPR44=(MAN)18!

 (I know, you thought a prostaglandin and a cellular landing dock were things from “Star Trek.” But that’s why you and I didn’t get into Caltech.)

To put the equation in business terms, NoGoBald=Viagra(profits)squared.

We may not be able to cure cancer, but we’re all over the two things men care most about. I just hope that there’s government funding involved -- it sounds like a much better bet than bailing out GM and Chrysler or funding that silly solar energy stuff.

Speaking of the government, there’s the Earhart mystery. The famed aviator disappeared 75 years ago in the South Pacific, and her tale has captivated millions (thousands? hundreds?) since.

Now, some folks from the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery have enhanced a photo from 1937 that they say shows what may be the landing gear of her plane near the island of Nikumaroro, in what is now the nation of Kiribati.

At a State Department event, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood “gave the privately funded project their support,” the Associated Press reported.

They probably added that part about private funding to allay the fears of those who remember that, in 1937, that other great socialist president, Franklin Roosevelt, sent nine Navy ships and 66 aircraft to search for her at a cost of more than $4 million. (That’s what, about $60 gazillion in today’s dollars? Sheesh -- that and Social Security too!)

So, I understand why Clinton took time out this week from worrying about Iran and Afghanistan and Russia and China to worry about Kiribati and Earhart.  

But I’m wondering why the Transportation secretary wanted to be part of a project that involved an air crash. Does he think someone is going to sue?

Still, here’s hoping they turn up the plane, or parts of it, or something conclusive. 

Although, given the never-say-die “birther” conspiracy, I doubt anyone will be convinced of Earhart’s fate unless they bring back the plane, her body and a note saying:

“Oops. I crashed here. It’s 1937. Send help.

Amelia

P.S. Hurry. Fred's going bald."

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--Paul Whitefield

Photo: In January 1935, Amelia Earhart studies maps and charts at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu. Credit: Matson Navigation Co. Archives / Associated Press

 

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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