The snowflake designer

I’ve always been interested in their symmetry, their beautiful shapes, and their infinite variety

Since I first saw a photograph of a snowflake under the microscope, I’ve always been interested in their symmetry, their beautiful shapes, and their infinite variety. But never had I imagined that it would be possible to create such snowflakes in the lab or control their growth to order.

Meet Ken Libbrecht, the snowflake guy. He began by investigating how they form, and can now build snowflakes more or less to order. Amazing! Watch this video in which Ken demonstrates his work to Derek Muller on Veritasium.

Ken has discovered so much about the conditions that cause snowflakes to form. He also understands the subtleties of humidity, temperature and so on that produce different kinds of snowflake growth, why they show the six-fold radial symmetry that they do, why they branch at particular places, and why individual ‘arms’ of a snowflake are almost identical to one another while different snowflakes are unique.

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