Monday, May 25, 2009


I recall musing recently on the duplication of snowflakes. Those thoughts have come back to haunt me. Quite clearly, there are huge differences in snowflakes. The bit that has me utterly stumped is why they exhibit six-fold symmetry.
I fully understand how crystals form. A course in crystallography at university took care of that. What I don't understand is how the growing tips of snowflake crystals all know how to be exactly alike. The molecules joining the crystal seem to know exactly where to go and are supported in this, like synchronised swimmers, by five other molecules doing exactly the same thing. That I don't understand or even begin to understand.
It is not like growing salt crystals. Whereas every snowflake is different, every salt crystal is absolutely identical. The only thing different is the size of the crystal. Snow is a completely different deal. So, while each snowflake may be different, I think it should also be true that each "branch" of the snowflake should also be different.
But it isn't!

1 comment:

GC said...

''Crystallography'' is clearly a made-up word. It simply must be.

If not, I suggest you go back to uni and take the 'Snowflakology' course.