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THE INVENTION OF SNOW


Frozen crystals of all shapes and sizes float down and accumulate. The white fields resemble diamonds glittering in the sun. Wilson ‘Snowflake’ Bentley took over 6,000 photographs of individual flakes between the early 1880’s and his death in 1931. No two were alike.

Some snowflakes resemble Dorian columns; some look like oak leaves; some are shaped like dinner plates; and thousands are almost perfectly symmetrical six-armed intricate snowflakes that look like frozen lace.
Scientists believe dust and bacteria blown off plants and thrown into the air by ocean waves produce rain and snow. In a lab, Russell Schnell (U of CO) produced snowflakes by injecting bacteria into a cloud chamber. The experimental clouds immediately turned into snow. The bacteria, Pseudomonas syringae and Erwinia herbicola, contain a molecule that attracts water. After one ice crystal forms, it splinters. Each fragment serves as a seed for another ice crystal. The snowflake’s six-sided shape comes from the hexagonal lattice structure of an ice