It was this, or a million rubber duckies.
June 10, 2008 11:46 PM   Subscribe

The world's largest ball pit? 400,000 black plastic balls, one reservoir, thousands of happy goths. Other unusual things being filled with balls: the Spanish Steps, Rome, a co-worker's cube, San Francisco. (videos)
posted by Leon-arto (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I am very sorely disappointed that this isn't a true ball pit in the McDonald's Playland sense of the phrase.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:49 PM on June 10, 2008


The relevance of the "thousands of happy goths" bit escapes me.
posted by WalterMitty at 11:49 PM on June 10, 2008


I wonder what the chances are of the plastic balls leaching something into the water that's worse than bromate...
posted by Dipsomaniac at 11:54 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The relevance of the "thousands of happy goths" bit escapes me. If goths were going to play in a giant ball pit, what color would they prefer those balls to be?
posted by delmoi at 11:54 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the article:

"Ivanhoe and Elysian reservoirs will be blanketed by about 3 million balls each for about four years, Parekh said."

OK, cool. Then what? Are they biodegradable? Easily recoverable? Landfill fodder?

Meh. I'm just grumpy. Carry on.
posted by ZakDaddy at 11:54 PM on June 10, 2008


Previously.
posted by Tube at 11:57 PM on June 10, 2008


Previously.

Thanks -- to spoil the surprise, that's "Spanish steps." Sorry, one would be surprised how much stuff comes up on a search for "balls" in MeFi. The main link should remain valid.
posted by Leon-arto at 11:59 PM on June 10, 2008


Fire balls
posted by tellurian at 12:04 AM on June 11, 2008


Mark my words, this will only make some other unseen problem worse than the original one.
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:14 AM on June 11, 2008


Oh yeah, you can pretty much guarantee that. Also, they said it was temporary but I didn't see any mention of what they're going to do after 4 years. Maybe they'll cross that bridge when they come to it.
posted by puke & cry at 12:18 AM on June 11, 2008


I wonder what the chances are of the plastic balls leaching something into the water that's worse than bromate...

QFT.

Similarly, but on a smaller scale, I was important to the group behind releasing 2003 (if the 14 gross count I ordered was correct) bouncing superballs into the locker area of my high school. The school authorities who were chill enough to figure out it was myself and friends were also chill enough not to give us shit for a harmless prank. Kids mostly threw them at each other; it was surprising to see the amount of superballs which were defective and split in half.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:19 AM on June 11, 2008


I find myself filled with irrational glee looking at these links!
posted by emperor.seamus at 12:35 AM on June 11, 2008


400,000 black plastic balls, one reservoir, thousands of happy goths.

Sorely disappointed. I can't play in that, dammit!
posted by Jilder at 12:38 AM on June 11, 2008


If goths were going to play in a giant ball pit, what color would they prefer those balls to be?

True - but (1) swimming and goths don't mix, and (2) that's a pretty big If.

Also, seconding the disappointment that it's really a reservoir and not an actual ball pit.
posted by WalterMitty at 12:41 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was important to the group behind releasing 2003 (if the 14 gross count I ordered was correct) bouncing superballs into the locker area of my high school.

Is there a punch line coming about what happened to the other 13 balls?
posted by rokusan at 12:53 AM on June 11, 2008


The water needs to be shaded because when sunlight mixes with the bromide and chlorine in Ivanhoe's water, the carcinogen bromate forms, said Pankaj Parekh, DWP's director for water quality compliance. Bromide is naturally present in groundwater and chlorine is used to kill bacteria, he said, but sunlight is the final ingredient in the potentially harmful mix.

Okay, I'm no chemist, but there seems to be something very fundamentally wrong with the way we're storing water, if it turns into a carcinogen IN SUNLIGHT.

Did lakes not work? WTF?
posted by rokusan at 12:53 AM on June 11, 2008


I'd hate to be the guy who has to wash the piss off all the balls at the end of each day...
posted by i_cola at 1:11 AM on June 11, 2008


If goths were going to play in a giant ball pit, what color would they prefer those balls to be?

That depends on what was mixed in with the ecstacy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:23 AM on June 11, 2008


I'd hate to be the guy who has to wash the piss off all the balls at the end of each day...

Oh, if only there were such a guy. I have been told the terrible secret of the ball pit by a friend who spent years dancing in a giant rodent costume to earn her gas money. Liquid "accidents" just get the pit roped off for the night to dry, it takes a "code brown" for them to actually get cleaned.
posted by TungstenChef at 2:05 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


a.) the spanish steps video is neat in that it portrays some local cops behaving as humans, (which you can't take for granted in the U.S.)

b.) Open reservoirs exposed to sunlight are now rare. : can someone explain this? It's not like reservoirs covered in plastic balls are common, last time I checked - the only resevoirs I've seen (in NJ) were basically open bodies of water.
posted by unmake at 3:14 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


That depends on what was mixed in with the ecstacy.

Real goths don't take X, it interferes with their sadness.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:41 AM on June 11, 2008


I realize that a layer of plastic balls will insulate no matter what color, but wouldn't white opaque ones do a better job? Won't black ones absorb more heat from the sun and then transfer that extra heat to the water? What am I missing?
posted by marsha56 at 5:05 AM on June 11, 2008


Sorry, one would be surprised how much stuff comes up on a search for "balls" in MeFi.

Which is nothing when compared to searching for "black balls" on Google.
posted by jeremias at 5:15 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


bollocks.
posted by Dave Faris at 5:16 AM on June 11, 2008


If goths were going to play in a giant ball pit, what color would they prefer those balls to be?

Yes but if a tree falls on a black-balled goth in the woods, does anyone care AMIRITE?
posted by Avenger at 5:35 AM on June 11, 2008


Real goths don't take X, it interferes with their sadness.

The real hard core take it with 20mg of Diazepam, sleep through the happy part and wake up for the comedown.

I have been told the terrible secret of the ball pit...

Now this is something I've always suspected but didn't really want to believe. You have, of course, just broken the first rule of Ball Pit...
posted by i_cola at 5:40 AM on June 11, 2008


Is there a punch line coming about what happened to the other 13 balls?

Nah, sorry. I might still have a couple of them in a drawer somewhere.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:03 AM on June 11, 2008


b.) Open reservoirs exposed to sunlight are now rare. : can someone explain this?

They're covered, the net effect being that they're "underground" under a hill. Here's a satellite picture of Montreal's reservoir, (very shallowly) underground, and one in and another near Toronto.
posted by mendel at 7:43 AM on June 11, 2008


marsha56 writes:
I realize that a layer of plastic balls will insulate no matter what color, but wouldn't white opaque ones do a better job? Won't black ones absorb more heat from the sun and then transfer that extra heat to the water? What am I missing?

I'm with you — that was my first thought. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the current formulation of black plastic is more resistant to degradation from ultraviolet light exposure or friction. I suspect it's much easier and cheaper to make a very hard black plastic.
posted by Araucaria at 7:49 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Resembling a stream of oversized caviar, the black balls rolled thunderously down the reservoir's slopes. "Water quality doesn't get more exciting than this," Marina J.F. Busatto, a DWP biologist, said smiling.

Great story.
posted by box at 8:10 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've sent the Spanish steps link to my husband - alerting him that the "Italian Performance Art Strippers" appear gorgeously right at the end.

(I'm mean that way.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:12 AM on June 11, 2008


rokusan writes "Okay, I'm no chemist, but there seems to be something very fundamentally wrong with the way we're storing water, if it turns into a carcinogen IN SUNLIGHT. "Did lakes not work? WTF?"

The water has already been treated for drinking which is why there is chlorine in the water. A lake would essentially untreat the water.
posted by Mitheral at 8:32 AM on June 11, 2008


I'd just love to have been at the meeting where this solution was decided upon. Must have been some awesome weed.
posted by Nelson at 8:40 AM on June 11, 2008


About the Spanish Steps:
Guerilla artist Graziano Cecchini, who dished out nearly $30,000 for the feat, was promptly arrested, stating that he did it to raise awareness for the plight of the Karen and Burmese people and that the balls represented the lies of politicians.
Oh.

He also paints naked women.
posted by pracowity at 8:49 AM on June 11, 2008


Alright, who's the comedian with the black balls?

Bill Cosby, teacher - see you on Tuesday!
*
posted by porn in the woods at 9:10 AM on June 11, 2008


Some googling turned up the story behind those black balls. They've been used for industrial purposes since the 70s and have been used to cover free-standing bodies of water for the past 15 years for purposes ranging from deterring birds from congregating next to airport runways to preventing ice formation from breaking a gravel dredge [pdf]. They are made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and have a working lifespan of 10-20 years, after which they can be recycled.

The same company also makes those balls for kiddie ball pits.
posted by jamaro at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2008


You know how terrible your coffee tastes in an air pot (or even a closed thermos with a lot of air in it) after a couple of hours?

I've been waiting for years for someone to come up with some heat resistant, non-wettable little glass balls I could stick in there to delay that.
posted by jamjam at 10:42 AM on June 11, 2008


If they all came crashing down at once, the place would turn into a ball pit: Sort of the opposite of a ball pit...?
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 11:35 AM on June 11, 2008


Other unusual things being filled with balls: Your mom's mouth
posted by stenseng at 4:57 PM on June 11, 2008


o snap!
posted by stenseng at 4:57 PM on June 11, 2008


marsha56: I realize that a layer of plastic balls will insulate no matter what color, but wouldn't white opaque ones do a better job?

The problem isn't heat, it's UV (or maybe sunlight generally). Black balls will absorb more light rather than scattering or transmitting it into the water.
posted by hattifattener at 7:21 PM on June 11, 2008


Great. Got a problem? Make a shitload of plastic to fix it with! Because this world needs more pollution to deal with Later.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 1:12 PM on June 12, 2008


(I'm completely shocked that the FIRST outcry against both the "artist"'s and this use of plastic ISN'T a Stream of Bile against plastic being manufactured in such a huge quantity, with - you can be sure - some proportion of it ending up in the fucking ocean, and the rest of it, if we're lucky, being recycled in a process that creates yet more pollution in the air.)
posted by gorgor_balabala at 1:18 PM on June 12, 2008


Well as a trade off against people getting cancer from their drinking water it seems pretty reasonable. The balls are captive (making hte assumption the resivior doesn't lead to the ocean) and it shouldn't be that big of a deal to sweep them up 3-4 years from now.

It wasn't mentioned in the article but I wonder if the balls are expected to cut down on the evaporation rate?
posted by Mitheral at 6:14 PM on June 12, 2008


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