Styrofoam cup after 3,100 feet underwater


28 Responses to “Styrofoam cup after 3,100 feet underwater”

  1. Amsterdaam says:

    Now THAT’s a souvenir!

  2. StudioRobot says:

    Mary, if you weren’t married would you consider dating a semi-attractive 27 year-old? And if so, what are your husband’s weaknesses?


  3. SummerFang says:

    We’ve made these at my work. We do hydrostatic pressure testing, we have pressure vessels that can reach 10,00 psi.

    But, I guess that’s like farmed oysters or fake diamonds.

    Maybe we could pass them off as authentic and sell them! :-)

  4. Anonymous says:

    We got to do that in high school. Our Marine Sciences teacher knew some oceanic scientists. We each got to design a cup and a month later, voila! they are very cool. It only takes about 1000′ for maximum pressure on styrofoam

  5. Mike says:

    I’m impressed the color printing on the outside stuck around.

  6. betatron says:

    Grrrrrrr!!!! I had one of those, but the naval investigative service took it away from me during one of their *very* *many* wrong turns in the hunt for the man who turned out to be Johnny Walker. keep meaning to make one for myself…

  7. olr says:

    Why does the thumb and long finger holding the cup appear distorted? Have they been to the Palmer deep too? .. I call photoshop on this.

  8. in silico says:

    Hey, I’ve got one too. It was decorated by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute scientists and sent down to the Monterey Canyon with one of their ROVs.
    As it happens, MBARI is holding it’s open house on 14 August 2010. If you can get to Moss Landing, California on that day, you may be able to get one of your own.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I work as an oceanographic technician, and we make these frequently for kids/kids at heart. It’s funny to see something that’s somewhat commonplace in our field become an object of wonder to those outside of it.

  10. wispsmoke says:

    Mary, this is indeed a ridiculously cool thing to own. Proof of exploration to one of the depths of the planet? Sweet!

  11. Anonymous says:

    you can make one of these at home. You just need a pressure cooker. The trick is to put some water and not to let the cup touch the sides or the water (or it will melt). You can put a can inside the cooker, and put the cup on top of it.

  12. wil9000 says:

    I remember seeing something like this in an old National Geographic, probably something about the Bathysphere, where they sent down a styrofoam mannequin head, which was squished down to the size of a softball. Yikes!

  13. Anonymous says:

    These are really cool. My aunt gave me one of these when I was a kid, with my name on it. A friend of her’s was a deep sea researcher. The pressure, in addition to shrinking it, malformed it and it’s shaped like a boot!

  14. Loafer says:

    That’s nothing, I have a regular sized Syrofoam cup that was made at the bottom of the Palmer Trench… it’s huuuuuuuuuuuge

  15. Anonymous says:

    Now I’m thinking of the “breathable liquid” from the movie Abyss. Does it actually exist?

    And how deep have people dived to, either way?

  16. Anonymous says:

    I just want to thank you for writing SPOOK – it’s one of the best books I have read in years (and another is STIFF).


  17. prema says:

    But is it recyclable? As cool as this is, I can’t help but remember the huge trash buildup consisting of various plastics and styrofoam items already clogging up our oceans. Novel, yes – but meaningful to humanity, perhaps not?

  18. Flying Orca says:

    I have a couple of those from the Arctic Ocean, made for me by my parents when they were on the SHEBA/JOIS expedition. I seem to recall they also did a bunch for some school kids with whom they were corresponding.

  19. bishophicks says:

    That’s a strange coincidence. I was vacationing in Gloucester, MA recently and we took the kids to the Maritime Heritage Museum. One of the things we saw was a collection of diving gear, and the fun old guy answering our questions and generally being entertaining for the kids produced a similarly smooshed styrofoam cup. I assure you, it’s not Photo-shoppery. I held it in my hands.

  20. Anonymous says:

    ok-so… why doesn’t it return (approximately) to its original size when brought back up to sea-level? that is, where did the “tiny air bubbles inside the Styrofoam” go?

    • Michael Smith says:


      Packing material similar to Styrofoam was known to explode and rocket across the sky during the Apollo missions. So I suppose the air has been squeezed out of the bubbles and is unable to return.

  21. MandoSpaz says:

    How do we know that’s not a normal sized, yet slightly skewed Styrofoam cup being held by a giant? We need something to give a sense of scale.

  22. Anonymous says:

    What people seem to fail to realize from these kinds of demonstrations is that people are not made of styrofoam.

  23. aylian says:

    I have two of these cups made by my Dad, who is an oceanographer. Did them when I was little (almost 30 years ago). They’re really awesome. One was sent down 6000m, another 3200m. I heard someone on his research vessel sent down a styrofoam wig form. Would have loved to see that – a socially acceptable shrunken head!

  24. Punchcard says:

    We actually did this at Sea Camp when I was a kid. We got a similar result when we went down to just ~800 feet. Also fun: styrofoam and autoclaves.

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