We're all familiar with the classic springtime tradition of sending Peeps to their noble deaths via microwave, but that's getting a bit old. How about a total vacuum instead?

Interestingly enough, the Peep meets the same expanding death it would in a microwave. But when air is released back into the container, our little Peep turns into a disfigured shadow of its former self. Slate explains:

Because the Peep is soft, the material around the holes gets pushed by the air and expands as well, inflating the Peep overall. The tension in the material itself provides a force that keeps the air from expanding into the jar, so at some point the expansion stops when the forces balance.

However, that material is made of sugar molecules all stuck together in a crystalline state. When the Peep expands, the crystal structure is partially broken, and it stays expanded only because the air pressure inside the bubbles is holding it up, balanced by the tension in the sugar. Once the air is let back into the bell jar the air inside the bubbles contracts again, and the material collapses.

Rest in peace, little Peep. And know you died for science. [Slate via Digg]