The Week In Science: Female Condom Makeover, Bouncy Ball Physics, And More

  @rpalmerscience on
The old female condom, shown here, failed to catch on in the mainstream, but researchers hope the new model will be more palatable.

This week in science, we pondered what a world without GMOs might look like, learned about people who get no thrill from music, and took a look at the physics of flying snakes. But there’s still a lot more research and science news that happened this week! Here’s a roundup:

The female condom is getting a makeover. [Mosaic]

U.S. Navy researchers are following the bouncing ball across the water. Navy scientists think they’ve unlocked the physics secrets behind the Waboba, a tennis ball-size toy that easily skips over water, even though it can’t bounce on land. It seems that the secret is in the ball’s elasticity; when it hits the surface of the water, it flattens out like a pancake, increasing its surface area and, consequently, its lift force. [LiveScience]

Biologists peer into the secret lives of sea turtles. [Christian Science Monitor]

Microsoft Research is releasing a free software, ZooTracer, which allows scientists and students to analyze videos of animal behavior. ZooTracer’s algorithms can track movements of animals -- from insects to elephants -- in videos, even low-quality ones. It could greatly increase scientists’ ability to deduce patterns from data, perhaps lending insight into how animals are reacting to climate change or disease. [Re/code]

The science behind a funny cognitive trick: why ordinary speech repeated sounds like music. [Aeon Magazine]

After encouraging news that a second baby seems to have been cured of HIV, scientists are planning a larger trial of the experimental therapy. In the next three months, researchers will try out the possible cure -- a high-dose cocktail of three kinds of antiretroviral drugs -- on 50 HIV-infected babies within 48 hours of birth. [The Verge]

Before the Oscars Ellen selfie took social media by storm, everyone was retweeting the picture of Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and President Barack Obama mugging for the camera. Nye gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the nerdy selfie went down. [The Planetary Society]

Are patients getting shut out of the prescription medication debate? [Washington Post]

Despite the fears of conservative talk show hosts, free contraception doesn't make people anyone more promiscuous. Women are no more likely to have multiple sexual partners in a single month after they get access to no-cost birth control, a recent study finds. [Los Angeles Times]

This truly amazing slow-motion video from Earth Unplugged shows the deadly balletic movements of a goshawk attacking a water balloon. It makes us shiver a bit to see things from a prey animal's perspective:

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