Twinning with Snowflakes

There is a saying that no two snowflakes caught are exactly alike. Some could say that this saying is arbitrary since to the naked eye, every single snowflake is nothing but a fluff of frozen water. We can’t see any of the intricate designs with our boring human eyes and that in itself is a crime.

However, it seems that this metaphor (usually used by adults to tell children that it is a-o.k to be different) is not entirely true. Caltech has found that small snowflakes (the ones we need high powered microscopes to see) can be similar in shape and design while larger snowflakes (the combination of those tiny ones) will always be different. This has to deal with the fact that hundreds of tiny little snowflakes are combining with each other and large snowflake will be created by the same types of snowflakes shown in this chart created by chemistry teacher, Andy Brunning.


Taken from

So now you know that every snowflake that (begrudgingly) stays on your nose and eyelashes, will be both similar and unique. But if you want two snowflakes that are alike, because you are a set of Doublemint Twins or a person that loves symmetry. This is when you call Kenneth Libbrecht, a Caltech Physicts Professor, who has created designer snowflakes.

By changing the temperature and humidity, Libbrecht can create snowflakes that look similar every time. But just like your Mary Kate and Ashleys, your Tia and Tameras, your Lindsay Lohan and…Lindsey Lohans, they are not EXACTLY the same. Even under Libbrecht’s watchful eye, in a controlled lab, with controlled variables, the snowflakes still come out a smidgen different.

So I guess the saying does have a ring of truth to it.


H/T to Futurity

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