Following a dream

Instead of getting a couch, that guy who draws xkcd got a ball pit. This sounds like a good idea, since you can control who gets to use it.

Surely I’m not the only parent who has had the delightful experience of discovering a disposable diaper in the public ball pit? Personally, it kind of turned me off on the whole idea.


  1. MartinC says

    How do you prevent disposable diapers turning up in adult ball pits? Easy – Don’t invite any astronauts. Its hardly rocket science. Oh. Wait a second…

  2. Graculus says

    Robert Diemert (one of the world’s first and foremost WWII aircraft restorers, and complete nutjob-in-a-good-way) turned his living room into a swimming pool for his kids.

    Hey, it’s Manitoba, outdoor pools are a waste of 11 months.

  3. geru says

    It’s great to see intelligent adult human beings admire and envy a person for building a private ball pit.

    Seems like the plans of the XKCD writer to make the world a weirder place are working. :)

  4. Apikoros says

    Actually, I think ball pits are a brilliant solution to the problem of your kids not getting chickenpox when all the other kids have it.

  5. David Harmon says

    Many years ago, I visited fraternity (MIT’s TEP) where they had a small room/closet filled with bits of foam rubber. Very popular among the acidheads and such. They warned us up front that anyone having sex in there would be held responsible for washing the whole batch. “One sticky piece can really spoil the whole experience”.

  6. octopod says

    Dabney House at Caltech built one of these a year or two ago. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. We have to have an annual ball-washing party, though, ’cause they just get kinda gross with general people-grime.
    However, the rules are like the hot-tub rules: you introduce any bodily fluids into it, you empty it, clean it, and fill it again. No-one ever wants to do that in the ball pit ’cause it’s a pain in the ass, so this seems to be working so far.

  7. Interrobang says

    I think ball pits are a brilliant solution to the problem of your kids not getting chickenpox when all the other kids have it.

    I’ve got a better solution to that one: Herpes zoster vaccination. Your kids will thank you later when they don’t get shingles (as a direct result of that harmless li’l ole case of chicken pox when they were kids).

    The problem with all these cool toys is, of course, that most people think they’re for kids. I’ve heard the saying “Youth is wasted on the young,” but it really ought to be “cool toys are wasted on the young.” If no kids ever go in your ball pit, I guarantee you’ll never find a disposeable diaper in it (unless you need to get yourself some new friends, post-haste).

  8. says

    As someone who has shingles right now, let me second the comment about the herpes zoster vaccine… GOOD GOD, PEOPLE, YOU DO NOT WANT SHINGLES!!!

    I also want a ball pit. Genius. Planning begins when I get home tonight…

  9. DLC says

    Okay, so, I’m old and have no kids, so perhaps that explains why i don’t understand the fascination with ball pits.
    I just don’t see the attraction, but hey, if it’s what you like, and it doesn’t violate anyone else’s rights, feel free!

  10. Sampo Rassi says

    #15: I could not agree more. Still, I won’t be getting one of these for myself. I’d look like a sad, lonely person and I’m pretty sure a “concerned neighbor” would catch wind of the scheme and have me investigated as a potential child molestor.

  11. Gobaskof says

    When we last looked at making a ball pit it cost £15 for a small box of the balls, and we calculated the ball pit would cost in the region of £700-£1000 (About $2,000). It seems that even bulk buying them will be too expensive for a poor student like me, it will have to wait.

  12. liveparadox says

    @ #15 & #16 — On the flip side, you also DO NOT want a case of adult chickenpox, which is potentially lethal. (The vaccine doesn’t confer permanent immunity.) I’d rather have the shingles. And I’ve had shingles.

  13. says

    Actually having chickenpox doesn’t confer permanent immunity either. My Nigel’s had it twice, and he seems to have caught it the second time from a minister at his father’s funeral.

    And do I have to drag out again the story of the kid I met in the pediatric hospital who’d lost both legs to complications of chickenpox–at the age of two? Worse than it sounds, too: bone keeps growing; scar tissue doesn’t, so a child with above-knee amputations has to have repeated stump revisions. The need is signalled by nasty pain. Hurts afterwards, too, evidently.

  14. says

    I’d be interested in something about the physics of ball pits. As it happens, we took my nephew to Edaville Railroad in Carver, MA a while back and they have a huge ball pit there. Turns out that in at least some ball pits, the balls appear to have a tendency to settle in patterns like graphite sheets. I’d love to know how that happens.


    If he does have a girlfriend, they’re probably past the ball pit into the blanket fort by now.

    And if he doesn’t, well, there’s no reason he can’t find someone from the fanbase to help test it…

  15. Stephen Wells says

    The “graphite sheets” are just hexagonal close packing. Agitation of the spheres will often tend to pack them more closely, and that’s the limiting case. You know how it says on cereal packets, “contents may have settled in transit?” If the cereal were made of little spheres, you’d find a lot of close-packed structures when you opened the box.

  16. Galbinus_Caeli says

    Ok, #23, that sounds like a challenge. Anyone have access to an MRI machine and a box of Kix?