Tim's "ballsy math" is "immortalized":
The last time we took on the subject of balls, it was to consider the physics of New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady's deflated balls. Today, we're going back to the ball pit because Los Angeles' city government is spending $34.5 million to dump up to 96 million plastic balls into a water reservoir, where the apple-sized floating black spheres are intended to reduce water loss due to evaporation and to reduce the need to treat the water with chemicals to keep algae and bacteria growth at bay.
While it's an open question as to whether the black balls will be successful at their second mission, as other scientists have hypothesized that they might actually promote bacterial growth instead of hindering it, the balls should be somewhat successful in minimizing the loss of water due to evaporation by preventing direct sunlight from reaching and heating the reservoir's water surface. The question is how much might the balls succeed in reducing that evaporation.
Environmental Economics' Tim Haab worked up the basic math, which we're both immortalizing and extending today in a tool designed to answer not just that question, but also how many balls it would take if the city leaders of Los Angeles chose to substitute balls of other sizes for the apple-sized ones they are using. ...