A chemist in Vienna has taken the term "navel gazing" to its logical extreme and guaranteed himself a curious epitaph: Unraveler of the mysteries of belly-button lint.
Georg Steinhauser discovered that there is a certain type of body hair responsible for directing lint into the navel. The researcher spent three years studying 503 pieces of schmutz from his own belly button, then published his conclusions in the journal Medical Hypotheses under the title, "The nature of navel fluff."
Steinhauser found that hairs around the belly button have a scaly structure that pulls fibers from clothing and then directs those fibers—along with dead skin, fat, sweat and dust—into the belly button.
He wrote that scales on the hair act like "barbed hooks," catching a "melange of foreign materials" and coalescing them into easily removed clumps of lint. Thus, Steinhauser posits, men with abdomen hair likely have "cleaner and more hygienic belly buttons than those who do not"—provided, of course, they go to the trouble of actually removing the lint clumps.
For those who don't want to deal with the lint altogether, Steinhauser recommends a good belly shaving.