What If... #52: Bouncy Balls stipulates:

If you wanted to be sure of killing someone, you'd need a lot more balls. 3,000,000 of them—enough to fill a large room—would be be enough to guarantee that the target would either be crushed to death by the impact or buried too deep to dig themselves out.

To your last question, if someone just happened to walk underneath when you dropped the bouncy balls, and they were killed by the impact, you'd most likely be guilty of some form of manslaughter.

However, by asking this question, you've shown your intent to cause harm to the victim, demonstrating clear malice aforethought. By writing in to this blog, you've probably upgraded your charge to murder.

Assume we are in Utah and repeat their Geekweek experiment with the calculated 3-million bouncy balls, set up to fall in a way that it could do what Randall calculated and lead to the death of a passerby. Did we satisfy murder by having read his calculation? What if we had sent in the question in the first place?

  • 1
    It says that writing in is what upgrades to murder. It does not say reading as you are asking. – JdeBP Jan 19 at 12:31
  • @JdeBP we'd have reckless disregard at least... but point. – Trish Jan 19 at 12:34

Murder is definined in Utah as:

Murder is causing the death of another person under any of the following circumstances:


  • Knowingly engaging in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person and under circumstances which evidence a depraved indifference to human life.

It's not unreasonable to consider dropping 3,000,000 bouncy balls over a populated area as "depraved indifference", particularly if someone had asked/read the question and would therefore know the potential consequences.

Whether the killer would be charged with murder or manslaughter depends on the exact circumstances.


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