Water trivia:Mysterious black ball

In the latest episode of the Veritasium channel, Derek Muller investigates the complete story behind this crazy idea.…

In the latest episode of the Veritasium channel, Derek Muller investigates the complete story behind this crazy idea. “It looks ridiculous,” Muller said with a smile. “It’s like we are in the biggest ball pit in the world.”


Even in the middle of the reservoir, Muller’s ship does not seem to be held by water, but is held by a sphere covered by water. The following hides about 12.5 billion liters of water (3.3 billion gallons), which comes from the same place as the water that the Los Angeles people opened to the faucet.

Water trivia:Mysterious black ball
Water trivia:Mysterious black ball

Although they are reported to save water, these spheres are not just placed here to reduce evaporation. These problems are actually caused by bromide. Bromide itself is not harmful to humans, but if some of the bromide-containing brine infiltrates into the reservoir and is ozone treated with drinking water in Los Angeles, it forms bromate, which itself is a carcinogen. The hydropower sector in Los Angeles has been paying attention to the level of bromate, but for some reason, the bromate content is rising as water flows into the Los Angeles reservoir. The results of the investigation indicate that bromide and chloride interact in the sun to produce more bromate than the former.

Originally known as the “Bird Ball”, this black ball is usually used near the airport to prevent birds from inhabiting the wetlands on the edge of the airport. It turns out that this kind of ball is also very effective in blocking sunlight.

The project’s head, Marty Adams, told Muller that the charcoal black sphere can work for more than 10 years and that the sphere itself has no toxic substances that penetrate into the water. Although evaporation is not the primary cause of the use of these spheres, they do allow the water to remain cooler. These measures reduce evaporation by 80% to 90% and are invaluable for a dry climate like Los Angeles.

Adam said that the black ball only achieved half of the original price in the above two aspects, and about three people cost $1 until they complete the mission.

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