There is a lake close to the outskirts of Las Vegas that is covered by nearly one hundred million black balls. This is the “world’s largest ball pit” and the interesting thing about it is that no one in Las Vegas actually knows what’s going on there.
Fortunately, a man by the name of Derek Muller who runs the “Veritasium” YouTube channel decided to figure out this mystery and learn everything there is to know about the strange black balls that are floating on the lake.
You can say that this lake is unique because let’s face it, where have you seen a huge lake filled with millions of balls? They’re not there for people to splash around and have fun.
David was very curious to learn all about these shadow balls, so he went straight to the source!
According to the Las Vegas officials, there are more than 96 million shadow balls floating on top of the lake.
Can you believe that? It’s rare to see 96 million of anything. And that’s where Derek was heading, looking at them up close!
In August 2015, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was present as the 96 million plastic balls — which only measure 4 inches — were dumped into the lake, which holds around 3.3 billion gallons.
Their bizarre purpose was later unveiled by none other than Derek! Derek Muller loves science and to use his knowledge in order to solve some of the world’s most interesting mysteries. This is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the lake covered in balls caught his attention.
After talking with the locals in Las Vegas, Derek found out that no one knows anything about the mysterious black balls.
The interesting thing about this is that no one seemed curious enough to find out why 96 million of them are floating on the lake.
“It looks absurd. It’s like we’re in the world’s biggest ball pit,” said Muller in the video as he got closer to the lake.
He was intrigued and had to learn more about these shadow balls. He asked the Las Vegas health department for help in figuring out this mystery and they were more than happy to explain everything.
The first thing that you need to know is that this not a regular lake, it’s a reservation one. This means that the water needs to be clean and healthy to drink at all times since it goes directly to people’s homes.
But how on earth could the millions of balls dumped in the lake possibly help with that?
When Derek asked the Las Vegas officials why they put 96 million balls on top of the lake, they said that the answer to that question was rather complicated.
So, instead, they decided that it would be much easier to take Derek out onto the lake and show him why.
You can count yourself lucky if you get in the middle of this lake, and Derek was right there, on a boat.
He could not believe his luck when he finds himself in a boat with the man who cares for the lake. There, it all felt like the boat was floating on those black balls and not on the water!
Derek was introduced to James Tilch, who is in charge of making sure the lake doesn’t get contaminated.
They both got on a boat, but not before Derek put on a life jacket because driving a boat in this lake is not only dangerous, it is also very difficult.
The first question that Derek had for James was: “Why don’t the balls just fly off when the wind blows?”
The man said that these are special shadow balls and that they have been filled with a little bit of water so that they don’t fly away at the first breeze.
The first time these spheres were used was in airports to stop birds from perching in the water.
It was then revealed that these bird balls, as they were initially called, were also great at keeping out sunlight, so that meant it helped save water. But they had one more essential role in this lake…
While James Tilch was the one who took Derek out on the lake, Marty Adams — who is the Chief Operating Officer of the LADWP — is the one who was actually able to give Derek the scientific answers that he needed.
Then Derek asked Adams if there was more to these shadow balls than saving water.
The man said yes, and started explaining some of the chemistry of the lake… Who would have thought that millions of black balls can do so many great things?
“They knocked out the problem immediately,” Marty Adams said about the balls’ ability to help save water. But how long will they last before they start to deteriorate?
Marty explained that the balls will last for up to 10 years and then they will all have to be replaced!
While the balls are now considered to be used to save water, this wasn’t the reason why they were added in the first place. They also serve another important role in the lake…
The black balls also helped to keep the water cool and provided enough shade to minimize algae growth.
This way, the treatment facility uses less chlorine to treat the water for consumption. But the shade balls help with one more essential thing, the most important of them all…
Marty Adams explained to Derek that they have a Bromate problem with the reservation lake.
While Bromate might be perfectly healthy in small quantities, it’s not that good for people when there’s too much of it as it leads to an increased risk of cancer. This is exactly what was going in the reservation lake from Las Vegas.
Marty Adams said that they need to release a special solution in the water that cleans and when that solution stays in the sun for too long, it creates large amounts of Bromate.
This is where the shadow balls come in.
As shown in the picture featured above, the sunlight warms up the water and it causes the cleaning solution to create Bromate.
Luckily, the shadow balls make sure that this doesn’t happen and that the water stays potable. Marty Adams also that the shadow balls are great for the lake because they prevent algae from growing – as it thrives when it has a lot of sunlight, leaving tap water with a green tint. The next question that Derek had for Marty is: how did this all happen?
Did he and his team invent the shadow balls? Or did they buy them from someone?
Marty Adams then talked about the bird balls we previously mentioned. Adams also said that he tried different solutions before deciding to invest in the shadow balls. Were there other better solutions?
The scientists who were in charge of this Bromate problem tried one other method. They also used a tarp but it didn’t work better than the shadow balls.
It’s great to see how quickly the folks who are in charge of the water in Las Vegas adapted to the Bromium problem and found an innovative solution.
While we must admit that these balls are quite handy for the LA reservoir, they look spectacular in photos, and just watching them roll over into the water is more than satisfying!
If we didn’t know the reason why these balls were used, we’d all think that this idea is crazy. But if it works and improves our lives, saving water and helping to keep it clean and safe to drink, it’s not that crazy anymore.
In conclusion, we can say that the 96 million shadow balls are not there to create the world’s largest ball pit, but rather to provide the people of Las Vegas with safe and healthy water.
We have to give props to Marty Adams and his team for coming up with this rather unique solution to the Bromate problem.