Science writer Robert Gonzales explains the anatomy of snowflakes, but he takes some of the romance out of the crystalline forms. He writes, “The ice crystal(s) in snowflakes owe their six-fold rotational symmetry to the hydrogen bonds in water molecules. As water freezes, water molecules bound to other water molecules crystallize into a hexagonal structure, where each point on the hexagon is an oxygen atom and each side of the hexagon is a hydrogen bonded to an oxygen. As freezing continues, more water molecules are added to this microscopic six-sided structure, causing it to grow in size into the six-sided macroscopic structure that we recognize as snowflakes.”
If Gonzales' description sounds a little too dry, to just watch this amazing video created by Russian filmmaker Vyacheslav Ivanov. The microscopic film offers a close-up inspection of how each delicate structure comes into existence through a timelapse video. Water molecules, as if guided by magic, coalesce into a beautifully arranged systematic orderings that are always unique.
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