A story caught my eye the other day about a hair-raising experiment at Cambridge University in England. A balding scientist actually grew hair in a test tube.
"This is the real thing," said Dr. Terence Kealey, leader of a research team that grew hair in a synthetic blood product at the department of clinical biochemistry. He said watching hair grow was "an amazing sight," and that it actually grows in an identical way to normal hairs - at the rate of 0.012 inches a day.Although he cautioned that growing hair in a test tube is not in itself a cure for baldness, he said that it could lead to a cure for baldness within 10 years.
Well, that's the most encouraging thing I've heard about baldness - but 10 years is still a long way off - at least for those of us whose lives could be miraculously transformed if we suddenly had a full head of test-tube-grown hair.
My own theory is that Kealey does not have his heart in this research. After the discovery he said he was "thrilled" at the research team's success, but "as an intellectual achievement it has to be viewed as rather trivial."
Well, after that comment we might all suspect that Kealey, because of his own full head of hair, could not properly relate to the need to cure baldness for millions of men.
But afterward he added, "I am myself bald, but I don't think it's something that bothers me very much."
That is easy for him to say.
I suppose Kealey is one of these unusually and obnoxiously well-adjusted men whose other successes in life make up for his lack of hair.
He obviously fails to realize this is a serious question that is not by any means limited to matters of mere vanity.
For instance, did you know that bald men bump their heads far more frequently than men with hair?
Did you know that bald men spend an obscene amount of money on hats to keep their bare heads warm in winter?
Did you know that bald men suffer psychologically because of numerous snide comments about their lack of hair and many derisive nicknames, such as "chrome dome?"
Did you know that women often pat bald men on the head in a patronizing manner?
Did you know that bald men expend 13 times more energy than other men just combing their carefully grown sideburn hair up over the tops of their heads?
Did you know that there are a million bad jokes about bald men?
Those are only a few of the reasons why this is such a frightening comment from the scientist who directed the discovery.
I submit that while there is still time, the University of Utah should get its own research team investigating this matter. With a little effort and the money that has already been earmarked for the cold fusion institute, a Baldness Institute could be established.
The Legislature would love it. It might benefit many of them directly.
Who knows? Such a decision might even persuade Dr. Stanley Pons to return from Europe to head it, even though he is not bald. (Fleischmann, after all, is bald.)
It would be a sure-fire way to recover the damaged reputation of the University of Utah.
But the vital thing is that we do it now. Ten years is just too long. People like me need help now so that there is still time to succeed in life with a full head of hair.
Just think of the renewed self-confidence.
I watched an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer Simpson was able to get a full head of hair overnight through a miracle cure. He immediately became an important executive in his company.
The same thing could happen to well-meaning but repressed men all over the state of Utah who, with follicles growing at the rate of 0.012 inches a day, would become instant sensations.
Now - what do we do about shortness?