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28 February, 2001

Now I wouldn't want you to think that science doesn't have an element of play involved. Sometimes doing something as creative as decorating a Styrofoam cup can lead to great science. For example, what would happen if you sent a Styrofoam cup to the bottom of the ocean at Cindy's mooring? It's around 3,800 meters at the bottom of an abyssal plain. We decided to find out so we all decorated drinking cups (even Our Chief scientist did) and carefully placed them in mesh laundry bags. The bags were then strapped onto the CTD just before it was sent down. What came back was surprising because they were just "shells of their former selves". So what's the science? Look at the pictures. What do you notice about the shape of the cup? Right! They are not flat! The pressure under the ocean is uniformly distributed so it pushes on all sides. If I were to descend to just 2000 meters beneath the surface I would be reduced to the size of a soccer ball. For extra credit find out what the pressure was on the cups at the bottom of the ocean. (Do a search on the unit of measure "ocean atmospheres". Hint 1000m=100 atmospheres)

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