The Shimmering Science Of Snowflakes

Imagine what it would look like if billions of microscopic crystals consisting of intricate and complex designs, each absolutely unique, fell from the sky all at once for several months at a time. It may sound grandiose, but in many parts of the world this phenomena is simply known as snow. During colder months, when temperatures are no longer warm enough for condensation to sustain itself in liquid form, wet air freezes and turns to snow. Each snowflake is like a human fingerprint, unique in its formation, size, weight and design. What snowflakes do have in common, however, is their six-sided figure, an attribute all snow crystals share. And although snowflakes are generally small in size, the world's largest snowflake was recorded back in 1887 as 15-feet across and 8-inches deep.

But if snowflakes are just made of frozen water, what makes their distinct pattern? How can we be sure no two flakes are the same? Check out this playlist for the shimmery science behind one of nature's coolest tricks.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Wilson Bentley photographed the first snowflake. 01:14

  2. A snowflake crystal starts as a tiny speck of dust or pollen which catches water vapor out of the air. 02:51

  3. In 1988, researcher Nancy Knight claimed to have found two identical snowflakes. 03:48

Written by Curiosity Staff December 18, 2014

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.