This may be the dirtiest experiment in the history of science.
For the next several weeks, researchers will be collecting samples of earwax and swabs from armpits, along with specimens from Triangle residents' ankles and noses. Those who participate in this gag-inducing study are asked to refrain from using deodorant or anti-perspirant for 48 hours in advance.
The point of this analysis — a collaboration between the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, N.C. Central and N.C. State universities — is to probe the links between genetic variations and skin microbes around the body.
It turns out earwax comes in two varieties: wet and sticky like pumpkin spread or dry and flaky like soap. People whose ancestors hail from Europe and Africa tend to produce the wet kind, and they also sweat and generate more body odor. Those with North American and Asian roots tend toward drier wax and less perspiration.
The researchers will take all comers but they especially need ears with dry wax, including people's parents with dry-wax ears. Volunteers should expect a 30-minute screening with swabbing of the ears, armpits, ankles and outer nose. Along with the reward of having served science, participants will get a copy of their genotype and a picture of the microbes dwelling in the cave of their ears.
Follow this link for more information, including the April 7 testing at the downtown Raleigh museum and April 3 and April 10 testings at Duke University.
Give the scientific world an earful.
Josh Shaffer: 919-829-4818 or @joshshaffer08