Meet Dr. Georg Steinhauser. Dr. Steinhauser is a researcher at the Vienna University of Technology, located appropriately in Vienna. Vienna is a good place to be for Dr. Steinhauser. After all, Freud was from Vienna. It's like the birthplace of psychoanalysis. I imagine the place is just swimming with psychoanalysts. And I'd like a team of those very psychoanalysts to tell me why it is that Dr. Steinhauser has spent the last three years researching what type of body hair it is that traps pieces of lint in one's navel, aka the belly button. Wait. What?
According to the folks over there at The Telegraph (who have just been putting out fascinating stories lately, so thanks, Telegraph guys!), Dr. Steinhauser, "...made his discovery after studying 503 pieces of fluff from his own belly button." He also asked his friends, family and co-workers about their own belly button lint. (I imagine that's the sort of thing you only get to do once, as once you've asked anyone about their belly button lint, it's highly probable that they're not going to want to talk to you ever again.) OK, I really hate to ask this, but what constitutes "a piece" of fluff? I mean, if there are two pieces in there and they're pulled out and meld into one, is that still two? Or what if there is only one in there and it breaks on the way out, then what? One or two? I imagine it's questions like these that keep Dr. Steinhauser awake at night. (Me, not so much.)
He did a chemical analysis on the fluff (because that's what scientists are supposed to do! Chemical analysis! But not on belly button lint!) and what he found will shock you. Or it won't. (You could still be in awe that someone has actually taken time to do this. I'm still a bit stunned myself.) He found that the lint wasn't just "...made up of only cotton from clothing." ::::gasp!:::: That's right! He found that there "...were also flecks of dead skin, fat, sweat and dust." (Was this news to the man? Was he thinking, "If it only were not for the lint, it would just be PRISTINE in there! Damn the lint! Damn ALL the lint to hell!")
His findings were published in the Medical Hypotheses journal. How this qualifies as a "medical" anything is beyond me. He wrote that it's the "...scaly structure of the hair" which "enhances the 'abrasion of minuscule fibres from the shirt' and directs the lint towards the belly button." Basically, the hair acts like velcro. He also said he learned that "Abdominal hair often seems to grow in concentric circles around the navel." Concentric circles. Uh-huh. OK, well, good to know. That will help me...when? In case I'm ever on Jeopardy! one day? ("I'll take things only I know for $1000, please, Alex.)
So if you have a concentrically hairy stomach, you're going to have a linty navel. Sure you can shave your abdomen hair if you're really shooting for a "fluff-free navel", but that will only work until the hair grows back. (Again, something that I probably could have told you through casual reasoning and without a Ph.D.) He also mentioned that new clothes "can shed up to one thousandth of their weight to the belly button every year."So if your favorite sweatshirt seems to be getting smaller over the years, it might not be because you're getting fatter! It might be because it has just shed itself off and into your belly button, making the shirt seem smaller and you seem larger. So check there first before heading off to Jenny Craig or over to Kirstie Alley's house.
And although Dr. Steinhauser is a scientist, there are (sadly) apparently others who may not be scientists (and who could tell in this instance?) but who are also fascinated by the lint within one's navel. Take a one Australian bloke Graham Barker for instance. His belly button lint is usually red even though he rarely wears red clothing. (EWW! Do I have to guess why it's red?! I'm not gonna!) Graham is so fascinated with the fluffy stuff within his navel that he "...has been collecting his own navel fluff in jars every day since 1984." Um...1984? WTF? "The achievement has won him a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's largest collection of navel lint."
Was there a big field of competitors for that distinction? I don't think there was. And I don't know that I consider something a "world record" when it's extremely likely that you're the only one in the world who does that particular something on purpose! That doesn't necessarily mean that you're worthy of holding a "world record" as much as you are worthy of earning the distinction of someone who clearly needs therapy.
He has also studied the amounts of barium and strontium in the snow before and after fireworks were set off and determined that since the barium levels were almost 500 times higher after the fireworks than before the fireworks and that high barium levels can really aggravate a person's asthma, that those with asthma should stay away from fireworks celebrations.
There is also the almost obligatory GrahamParker.com. There you can find links to other webpages of his as well as download his CV.