The last time I posted on something from the journal Medical Hypotheses it was the outrageous idea that Down subjects and Oriental population "share several specific attitudes and characteristics" . Mercifully today’s Telegraph reports that a paper Medical Hypotheses truly advances our knowledge. After three years of research Austrian scientist Georg Steinhauser 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.
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."
He also established that shaving one's belly will result in a fluff-free navel - but only until the hairs grow back.
Dr Steinhauser, whose other projects have included monitoring the erosion of his wedding ring, said: "The question of the nature of navel fluff seems to concern more people than one would think at first glance. "We hope we have been able to provide information for doctors when they are next confronted with the simple question of 'why some belly buttons collect so much lint and others do not'."
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'. (hmm that's me) Researcher Karl Kruszelnicki said: "The reason it is usually blue is that we mostly wear blue or grey trousers, often jeans, and when these rub against the body, the fibres often end up finding their way to the navel."
I say give Dr Steinhausrer a Nobel Prize now. I doubt any piece of scientific research will ever be as important and ground breaking as this. If the scientific world is not as impressed I am sure that the Vatican will canonise him in quick time. He would be perfect as patron saint of Omphalomancers!