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New World Cup ball may be reason for record number of goals

More goals have been scored in this year's World Cup than in the past 40 years.

Some wonder if it's the newly-designed soccer ball.
An aerodynamics expert at NASA gives some insight as to what makes this year's ball different.

This year's World Cup teams are scoring at a record pace, but is this because of the ball with a funny name?

Adidas, the maker, would say there is nothing amusing about this year's World Cup soccer ball.

It has invested a great deal in researching, manufacturing, and advertising the "Brazuca".

Experts will tell you the effort seems to have paid off. 

"It's good. It's more stable. It flies truer", says Dr. Rabi Mehta, an aerodynamics engineer with NASA.

Mehta has studied just about every ball on the planet.

"Tennis balls, cricket balls, golf balls, baseballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, I think I got them all", says Mehta.

Using a wind tunnel equipped with lasers and smoke, scientists can measure how the ball moves through the air.

Mehta says the Brazuca travels better than previous balls, which may account for why there have been more goals scored in Brazil than any other World Cup since 1970.

Mehta adds, "well, this is a good soccer ball.  For one thing, I haven't heard any complaints from the players, so that's a good sign. I believe you can impart more spin on this ball, which is the "Bend it Like Beckham" syndrome, a lot easier to achieve with this ball I think".

The Brazuca  has longer, deeper seams, and a pimple like surface that makes the ball rougher.

Mehta says a smoother ball is harder to control.

Also the Brazuca has only six polyurethane panels, as opposed to the classic black and white balls, which have 32.

If you think a ball is just a ball, then you would have to go back 4 years.

The World Cup ball from 2010, the Jabualini, was hated by goalies because it knuckled.

This made the path unpredictable. 

Adidas apparently took that criticism to heart and the Brazuca was the result.

The South Africa World Cup had 77 goals in the first 36 games.

In Brazil, and with the Brazuca, there have been 108.

"I would say the ball definitely has something to do with it" says Mehta.

Mehta also says part of it may be psychological, as players just may be more comfortable striking it.

Whatever the reason, the Brazuca is a testament to sports engineering, the spirit of competition, and clever marketing.

The Brazuca ball has its own page on Twitter with more than 2 million followers.