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March 03, 2009

Science: Mysteries of Belly Button Lint Revealed

Check. And now, presumably, we can move on to second-order projects like cancer.

After three years of research, Georg Steinhauser, a chemist, has discovered a type of body hair that traps stray pieces of lint and draws them into the navel.

Dr Steinhauser made his discovery after studying 503 pieces of fluff from his own belly button.

Chemical analysis revealed the pieces of fluff were not made up of only cotton from clothing. Wrapped up in the lint were also flecks of dead skin, fat, sweat and dust.

Dr Steinhauser's observations showed that 'small pieces of fluff first form in the hair and then end up in the navel at the end of the day'.

Writing in the journal Medical Hypotheses, he said the scaly structure of the hair enhances the 'abrasion of minuscule fibres from the shirt' and directs the lint towards the belly button.

"The hair's scales act like a kind of barbed hooks," he said. "Abdominal hair often seems to grow in concentric circles around the navel."

Like a black hole.

Thanks to Dave in Texas. Gabriel notes this breakthrough builds upon an earlier watershed study:

An earlier, Australian study of samples from 5,000 people concluded the typical carrier of navel fluff to be 'a slightly overweight middle-aged male with a hairy abdomen'.



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