November 16, 2005

I'm a Flake

It snowed last night - the first snow of the year. My son was so excited he about turned himself inside out trying to get his coat and boots on. I love snow - love to play in it, sled, ski, make snow makes the world look so fresh, clean and beautiful. Yeah, yeah, it makes for shitting driving conditions, but I like everything else about it.

I was sitting there with the lights off last night, watching it come down out of the sky and I remembered some images I had saved a long time ago. I had found a website that talked about a man named Wilson Bentley (The Snowflake Man) who photographed snowflakes under a microscope around 1902. His photos are fascinating.

It is said that no two flakes are exactly alike – just like people. Some of them are very similar, but not exactly alike. Although some are more aesthetically pleasing to individual eyes, they are all beautiful and unique in their own way. Wow, that sounded like such a cliche. Erg.

Wikipedia (I freakin' LOVE that place) explores the interesting question of why the arms of snowflakes are symmetrical, and why no two snowflakes appear to be identical. "The answer is believed to be due to the fact that the distances between snowflakes are much greater than the distances across snowflakes.

The symmetry of snowflake arms is always six-fold, which arises from the hexagonal crystal structure of ordinary ice along its 'basal' plane. There are, broadly, two possible explanations for the symmetry of snowflakes. Firstly, there could be communication (information transfer) between the arms, such that growth in each arm affects the growth in each other arm. Surface tension or phonons are among the ways that such communication could occur. The other explanation, which appears to be the prevalent view, is that the arms of a snowflake grow independently in an environment that is believed to be rapidly varying in temperature, humidity and so on. This environment is believed to be relatively spatially homogenous on the scale of a single flake, leading to the arms growing to a high level of visual similarity by responding in identical ways to identical conditions, much in the same way that unrelated trees respond to environmental changes by growing near-identical sets of tree rings. The difference in the environment in scales larger than a snowflake leads to the observed lack of correlation between the shapes of different snowflakes."

Hmmm...very interesting. Science rocks, doesn't it?

I digress.

We are all flakes (some of us more than others. Lol). Some are more intricate while others are simpler, some lacy, some smooth...

Yes, I am a flake. I imagine myself to be like this flake:

Intricate, complex, detailed, complicated.

As I look out into sky at the millions of flakes, I think of all the people I know and how we collide and melt into one another some times. Is it fate that brings two flakes together? Why do some just bounce off eachother and move on while others cling like magnets? Once they melt into each other, can they can separate and ever really be what they once were? No, not really. They are still the same flake, but they are forever changed.

Let it snow.

On a completely different subject, I'm starting to wonder if there's something wrong with my comments code. I have received so few comments lately that it's starting to give me a complex. Are they working or have my posts just been sucking ASS lately?

Sorry...lunch sucked and now I'm grouchy. grrrr.


  1. I like snow a lot now that I live in Texas! The more snow, the more fun. I hated it when I lived in Philly... the endless mounds of the crap... huge melting puddles, the slush, the slipping, the sliding... roof leaking... snow freezing and creating sheets of ice. Ah yes, the good old days. lol

  2. Comments! Staving off crushing depression!

  3. Ack! Sorry I haven't commented lately...I've really intended to post something in the last two posts...honest! Life just has me worn out of late--working to fix lots of dirty computers (quite literally--we're talking CARPETS of dust bunnies inside) by day, trying to find the energy to make dinner and do laundry by night.
    We got snow showers today, and the kids in the elementary school where I was working today went nuts!

    Unfortunately I can't join in with their joy. Busted thermostat control with the car heater and just finding out tonight that our furnace doesn't ignite. It's gonna be a cold next few days...brrrr...

  4. Hi sweetie! Lovely post, I've never give snowflakes all that much thought before, it pretty much never snows here anyway! I can't really say if I would love it if I had to deal with it daily! LOL


  5. Hey girl! I hope you're doing better today. It was good to talk to you! Hugs.

  6. The 1st snow is kinda I'm looking forward to

  7. I think it's more likely there ARE identical snowflakes, people just haven't found them yet. I mean, do you realize how many snowflakes there are?

  8. Denny - Ok, smartypants. lol

    Derek - Shaddup, or I'll shove puddin' up your nose. lol

    Spc - I've been so lonely. *snif*
    No, really, I was wondering if something was broken! Did you get your furnace lit!??!

    Se7en - Hey! Sorry I missed you - I was sleepin. It's fun stuff.

    HEP - hey, baby! Yes, better. Borderline on goofy, actually. It's always good to talk to you. *hugs*

    Mike - jeez, don't rush it! Get out the sled!

    Armaedes - well sure, statistically there probably are, but considering their short lived lives, what are the odds of finding two identical?

  9. Yeah, it's been seriously quiet in Blogville of late. And no, still not working yet, but we're surrounded by people who keep their heat up pretty high--I don't think it got below 60 in here overnight. Not really a problem yet, as the missus and I like cooler weather better. Besides, saves on that heating bill for the winter! :)
    'course, our apartment maintenance folks are slow as molasses...I hardly expect anyone to look at it before the middle of next week.

  10. That really is amazing stuff. I love science too! I bet snowflakes are made out of chaos theory and superstrings. Or it's probably quantum. Or something. :D

    Here's another take on flakes.


  11. I was away from my computer suffering the wrath of God. Or however we would like to classify the allergic reaction that made my hand swell up for three days.

  12. If you write, I'll try to comment. Haven't seen anything new until today. Maybe I'm getting confused what with you having two blogs and all.

  13. My head has been in my ass mostly. Commenting few and far between. It's getting hard to keep up with reading everyone. 2 blogs, you're gonna kill me.. :)
    Have a great weekend!
    Lois Lane