Why Are There 96 Million Black Balls Floating On This Lake?

Published on 01/21/2021
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On the outskirts of Los Angeles, you will find a lake covered by approximately one hundred million black balls. Some might even think that this is the “world’s largest ball pit.” The most interesting thing about this phenomenon is that no one seems to know why it is there. Luckily for us, someone decided to get to the bottom of things. Derek Muller of a YouTube channel called “Veritasium” took on the task of solving the mystery. Read on to find out what he learned about all those strange balls on the lake!

Here's Why A Las Vegas Lake Is Covered In 96 Million Floating Black Balls

Here’s Why A Las Vegas Lake Is Covered In 96 Million Floating Black Balls

Not Like Any Other Lake

We are sure that most people would agree that it is a unique lake. After all, have you ever seen a lake with so many balls in the past? We highly doubt it. But they are not there so that you can have fun and splash around with them. Many people are intrigued by them, but David was more proactive than most.

Not Like Any Other Lake

Not Like Any Other Lake

Nearly A Hundred Million Balls

The Los Angeles authorities say that there are over 96 million shadow balls on top of this lake. How amazing is that? That number is making us feel a little woozy! You do not typically find that much of anything. This is the reason Derek decided to go on a quest to find out the truth about these balls.

Nearly A Hundred Million Balls

Nearly A Hundred Million Balls

Getting To The Bottom Of It

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, was there when 96 million balls were dumped into the body of water. The plastic balls were all four inches small, while the lake holds approximately 3.3 billion gallons of water. It turns out that there was a reason behind this. Derek Muller decided to go out there and figure it out. A science lover, he uses knowledge to solve some of the most fascinating mysteries in the world. Knowing this, it should not come as a surprise that a lake full of balls piqued his interest.

Getting To The Bottom Of It

Getting To The Bottom Of It

Asking The Locals About It

Derek first talked to the locals in the area about it. Sadly, they were unable to give him anything useful about the black balls on the lake. However, something struck him as even more unbelievable. He could not believe that no one had been curious enough to look into why there were 96 million balls there.

Asking The Locals About It

Asking The Locals About It

Like The World’s Biggest Ball Pit

“It looks absurd. It’s like we’re in the world’s biggest ball pit,” he said as he approached the lake. Derek was very curious about all the shadow balls on top of the lake. He decided to talk to the Los Angeles health department in the hopes that they could give him the answers to all of his questions. What did they say?

Like The World's Biggest Ball Pit

Like The World’s Biggest Ball Pit

It Is A Reservation Lake

First of all, you must know that this is not your regular lake. Instead, it is a reservation lake. It means that the water has to be healthy and clean to drink at any given time. After all, it goes right to the homes of the locals! We get it if you are even more confused. What do the balls have to do with that?

It Is A Reservation Lake

It Is A Reservation Lake

The Answer Is Complicated

After asking the Los Angeles officials about the 96 million balls over there, they told Derek that it was pretty complicated. However, they were willing to explain it to him in a different way. This was how they ended up bringing Derek to the lake. It was the best way to show him what the balls were doing there.

The Answer Is Complicated

The Answer Is Complicated

In The Middle Of The Balls

It must be a lot of fun to go to the middle of a lake full of black balls. Derek was lucky enough to experience this for himself! He was more than delighted to find himself inside a boat with the person who looks after the lake. Over there, it felt like the boat was floating not on water but on black balls!

In The Middle Of The Balls

In The Middle Of The Balls

The Man In Charge

Derek met James Tilch, the man in charge of taking care of the reservation lake. It was his job to ensure that the lake does not get contaminated. The two of them hopped on a boat. Before they did so, Derek had to slip on a life jacket. It was not only that it was dangerous, but it was also quite difficult.

The Man In Charge

The Man In Charge

Why They Don’t Fly Off

When Derek met James, the first question that came out of his mouth was this: “Why don’t the balls just fly off when the wind blows?” According to the caretaker, they are special shadow balls that have a little water on the inside. This explains why they do not simply fly away when a breeze passes by.

Why They Don’t Fly Off

Why They Don’t Fly Off

Not Just About Saving Water

These spheres were first deployed in airports. Over there, they were meant to prevent the birds from resting in the water. This is also the reason they were first called bird balls. They proved to be good at keeping sunlight out and saving water. But these were not the only reasons they were used in the lake.

Not Just About Saving Water

Not Just About Saving Water

A Man Called Marty Adams

Even though James Tilch was gracious enough to take Derek to the lake, he did not explain the scientific aspect of the scenario. Marty Adams serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the LADWP. The YouTuber wanted to know what other uses the ball serves, and he was the perfect person to give him the answer.

A Man Called Marty Adams

A Man Called Marty Adams

The Chemistry At Play

Adams told him more about the black plastic balls. He talked about the chemistry of the body of water as well. You will be amazed once you hear what these black balls are capable of. “They knocked out the problem immediately,” he said when it came to their ability to save water. But will they stay in good shape all the time?

The Chemistry At Play

The Chemistry At Play

As Long As Ten Years

Derek learned that the balls should last for up to a decade. But what happens when that period is over? After that, the team has to replace all of them. Even though they are excellent at helping save water, it was not the only reason they are on the lake. Can you guess what else they are supposed to do?

As Long As Ten Years

As Long As Ten Years

They Also Prevent Algae Growth

The black balls also help keep the water cool and offer shade. This then minimizes the growth of algae. Knowing this, the treatment facility does not have to use a lot of chlorine to make the water safe for drinking. This sounds like a great idea to us. But the most important use has to do with something else.

They Also Prevent Algae Growth

They Also Prevent Algae Growth

Helping With The Bromate Issue

Marty Adams told Derek that there was a bromate issue in the reservation lake. Even though it is perfectly fine in small doses, it can be bad when there is too much of it. For one thing, it can lead to a higher risk of cancer. This is the main reason they dumped all the black balls on the Los Angeles lake!

Helping With The Bromate Issue

Helping With The Bromate Issue

An Elegant Solution To The Problem

Adams told him that they had to put a special solution in the lake to help with this problem. It cleans the water, but it is not supposed to remain in the sun for a long period of time. After all, that would only lead to high amounts of bromate. The shadow balls have offered an excellent solution to this mess.

An Elegant Solution To The Problem

An Elegant Solution To The Problem

By Preventing Sunlight

As you can see in photos of the lake, the sunlight heats up the water. This then makes the cleaning solution that leads to the creation of bromate. It is a good thing that the shadow balls are there to prevent this from happening! Aside from keeping the water potable, Marty Adams appreciates how the balls prevent the growth of algae. It thrives when there is plenty of sunlight and adds a green tint to the tap water. This is a fascinating solution to various problems, but how did anyone even think of this?

By Preventing Sunlight

By Preventing Sunlight

How They Came Up With The Idea

Derek wanted to know how the team came up with the idea behind the shadow balls. Marty Adams told him about the bird balls that we already explained to you earlier. According to him, he tried a number of solutions before realizing that the shadow balls would be the best choice. The investment was worth it!

How They Came Up With The Idea

How They Came Up With The Idea

They Tried Other Methods Too

The scientists tasked to take care of the bromate problem tried a different method before using the shadow balls. When they tried to use a tarp, they saw that it was not quite as effective as the shadow balls. Isn’t it neat to see how devoted they were when it comes to ensuring that the water was potable?

They Tried Other Methods Too

They Tried Other Methods Too

Looking Good In Photos

By now, it is pretty obvious that the balls are very useful in the reservation lake. It does not hurt that they look awesome in photos as well. Trust us, you will be delighted when you see them rolling over in the water. If you did not know what they were doing there, you would probably be very confused. For this reason, we are more than glad to report that they actually help keep the water safe for drinking!

Looking Good In Photos

Looking Good In Photos

Keeping The Water Potable

You were wrong if you thought that the authorities were trying to make the biggest ball pit in the world. Instead, they just wanted to provide safe water to the residents in the area. A lot of the credit goes to Marty Adams and the rest of the team. If it had not been for them, this would not have happened. The bromate problem would continue, algae would flourish, and there would be no black balls on the lake!

Keeping The Water Potable

Keeping The Water Potable

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