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article imageNo two snowflakes are alike

By Chris V. Thangham     Dec 7, 2008 in Environment
Why two snowflakes are not identical? What makes them to be different and unique? Scientists show why snowflakes are not identical.
A young teenager, Wilson Alwyn Bentley's curiosity of snowflakes made him research further about them and found no two snowflakes are alike by documenting a number of snowflakes under a microscope.
The snowflake is formed with the following process:
Up in the winter sky, water vapor in a cloud condenses into a droplet and freezes into a tiny bit of ice, with the water molecules bonding together as a hexagonal crystalline lattice with a six-fold symmetry. As water vapor condenses on its surfaces, the ice crystal grows into a hexagonal prism. As the crystal gets larger and larger, branches begin to form at the corners of the hexagon. When the crystal is heavy enough, it falls through the atmosphere toward the ground, where we call it a snowflake.
Since it is formed similarly they should be identical, but they aren’t. Bentley from a small town of Jericho, Vermont, initially collected these snowflakes as it fell from the sky, checked their shapes under a microscope and drew pictures of them to see whether they are alike or not.
His initial attempts failed because he couldn’t maintain the structure of the snowflakes, they melted quickly. So he modified his microscope and attached a camera and photographed the snowflake directly in 1885.
Slowly he documented more snowflakes and collected about 5,381 photographs of them. With this collection, he was able to categorize 80 different snow flake types and shapes.
After this observation Bentley began telling others that he had never seen two snowflakes that are alike and that idea remained ever since among the public and scientists.
Scientists since then have tried to test the validity of Bentley’s theory and have come up with similar results.
They found the eventual shape of the snowflake depends upon the temperature, humidity and water saturation levels, and other environmental conditions.
Here are the different shapes of snowflakes that are formed at various environmental conditions:
Snowflakes have different structures.
Snowflakes have different structures.
1n 1988, Nancy Knight was documenting snowflakes for the National Center for Atmospheric Research and found two identical snowflakes of the hollow column type. But Kenneth Libbrecht, Caltech physics professor and snowflake expert said they may appear alike but under the atomic level, you’ll find them entirely different. Their water molecule numbers and layouts of the molecules will be different. (most water molecules contain an oxygen atom of Oxygen-16, but one molecule in every 500 has an Oxygen-18).
In conclusion, you will never find two snowflakes identical and same goes with their philosophical meaning in the quote we use, you will never find two persons alike, they are different and unique.
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