Snowflakes & Science

One of Wilson A Bentley's numerous photos of snow crystals

One of Wilson A Bentley’s numerous photos of snow crystals. Photo borrowed from: Smithsonian Institute

Now that it is mid-winter and the snow has spread like a carpet over large parts of the world, I believe the timing is just about right to take a second look at the beautiful snow crystals and their history. In the history of snowflakes, we also find a story about the good, thorough, scientific investigation, where empirical data – evidence – is being painstakingly collected:

“Wilson A. Bentley became fascinated with the crystalline structure of individual snowflakes on his parent’s Vermont farm. By adapting a microscope to a bellows camera, and after years of trial and error, he became the first person to photograph a single snowflake in 1885.

One of my winter photos.

One of my winter photos.

In 1903, he sent 500 prints of his snowflakes to the Smithsonian, hoping they might be of interest to Secretary Samuel P. Langley. These images are now part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Bentley’s book Snow Crystals, with more than 2,400 snowflake images, was published in 1931. This photomicrograph and more than 5,000 others supported the belief that no two snowflakes are alike, leading scientists to study his work and publish it in numerous scientific articles and magazines.”
(source: http://newsdesk.si.edu/snapshot/snowflake-study)

See more pictures from the study here:

http://collections.si.edu/search/results.jsp?view=&date.slider=&q=Wilson+A.+Bentley+snowflake+smithsonian+archives&dsort

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16 thoughts on “Snowflakes & Science

  1. This is fascinating. Thanks for the history lesson. Just thinking about the fact that each snow flake is unique just blows my mind. And they are beautiful, too. 🙂

  2. I love that book filled with the photos of snowflakes. It is so beautiful 🙂

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