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WAVES DEEP BELOW THE OCEAN surface, some as tall as the Space Needle, have been known to smash submarines against the seafloor. And water pressure near the bottom—up to 500 times stronger than on land—has turned divers’ brains to mush. Now a team of UW researchers (lead by Matthew Alford of the Applied Physics Laboratory) has recruited a favorite movie theater snack as a test subject. During an expedition near Samoa last fall, the physicists plunged gummy bears 18,000 feet into the South Pacific to observe the effects on the sugary ursine characters. The experiment—gamely titled “Will It Crush?”—was part of a larger study of deep-ocean waves, which regulate global climate stability. The bears fared better than other dunked objects, including a Styrofoam cup that shrunk to one-fourth its original size, but they didn’t escape unscathed. The teddies turned to gummy blobs.

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