NCBI ROFL: terrific blog about funny and odd scientific publications

My pal and IFTF colleague Alex Pang just turned me on to NCBI ROFL, a hilarious blog written by two molecular and cell biology grad students at UC Berkeley in which they point out funny, bizarre, and questionable biomedical research articles. NCBI stands for the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a national research organization that also houses databases of published scientific papers. Alex says, "The case studies on accidental condom inhalation, the article on the dangers of beards in microbiology labs, and the study of canned cat food evaluation techniques are all must-reads. However, I think the article title 'Inappropriate use of a titanium penile ring: An interdisciplinary challenge for urologists, jewelers, and locksmiths' may be the best thing ever written." From a post today excerpting a paper on "the nature of navel fluff:"
Hard facts on a soft matter! ... The hypothesis presented herein says that abdominal hair is mainly responsible for the accumulation of navel lint, which, therefore, this is a typically male phenomenon. The abdominal hair collects fibers from cotton shirts and directs them into the navel where they are compacted to a felt-like matter. The most abundant individual mass of a piece of lint was found to be between 1.20 and 1.29 mg (n=503). However, due to several much larger pieces, the average mass was 1.82 mg in this three year study. When the abdominal hair is shaved, no more lint is collected. "

From the materials and methods: "The author first observed the accumulation of navel fluff in his early 20s. Despite thorough body hygiene including a daily morning shower, the navel filled with lint over the day. The author collected 503 pieces of navel fluff since approximately March 2005 with a total weight of almost 1 g... ...In order to investigate the role of the abdominal hair, the author also shaved his belly for this study."


  1. Karl Kruszelnicki won an Ig Nobel Prize for his research on belly button fluff. He got people from all over Australia to send in samples so they could be analysed. Some of the findings were quit6e surprising.

    This wasn’t a waste of time. Dr Karl’s job is to make science accessible to the masses, and this was intended as a simple but fun research project to show how science is relevant to every day life.

  2. @#6 saying “Dr Karl did it 3 years before this guy” is lame/boring.

    This is science. One of the most important scientific tools is “reproducibility”. Someone makes a claim/hypothesis and proves it. Doesn’t mean squat until someone ELSE can prove it too, independently.

    See the video on bb about Skeptic Magazine’s Michael Shermer titled “HOWTO ask good skeptical questions” for good reasoning on this:

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