Navel gazing wins an Ig Nobel October 05 2002 By Jay Lindsay Boston An Australian study on bellybutton lint, a dog-to-person translation device and an inquiry into what arouses ostriches have been recognised with Ig Nobel prizes for dubious contributions to science. The Ig Nobels, awarded annually at Harvard University as a spoof of the Nobels, recognise achievements that "cannot or should not be reproduced". Karl Kruszelnicki, a Sydney University researcher who wrote the paper on belly-button lint. Dr Kruszelnicki, at his own expense, studied 5000 belly-button lint samples. He concluded the lint was a combination of clothing fibres and skin cells that were led to the navel, via body hair, "as all roads lead to Rome". "Your typical generator of belly-button lint or fluff is a slightly overweight, middle-aged male with a hairy abdomen," he said. A potentially more practical achievement is a Japanese device that measures the tone of a dog's bark and relays its mood. An English version, called Bow-Lingual, should be ready in about a year. British scientists were honoured for research that found ostriches became more amorous with each other when a human was around. In fact, ostriches eventually started putting the moves on humans. In economics In economics, the executives and auditors at Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen and a host of other companies were commended by the Ig Nobel committee "for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world". Actual Nobel Laureates bestow the awards at a raucous ceremony, during which the winners are hailed with cheers and a flurry of paper aeroplanes. Winners are selected from thousands of nominations. If a recipient felt insulted, the award was withdrawn, said Marc Abrahams, editor of the Cambridge-based Annals of Improbable Research, which bestows the award. He said most people were pleased with the prize.