The Fascinating Science of Snowflakes in 4 Minutes Explained by Brian Cox

Have you ever gazed at the snow and pondered over how each snowflake is unique in its shape and appearance? The intricate, beautiful, and mysterious creations that captivate the human eye are snowflakes. But have you ever wondered what the science behind the snowflake is? From the Royal Society, physicist Brian Cox explains how snowflakes form, why each snowflake is unique, and debunks an age-old myth about the color of snowflakes in a short 4-minute video.

Snowflakes form by a process called crystallization. The science behind snowflake formation is fascinating. It all starts with water droplets freezing around a nucleus. This process helps create the intricate patterns that we all know and love. However, did you know that the snowflake’s size and shape depend on the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air? Every snowflake has a unique and intricate symmetry formed by the movement of molecules during its formation.

The hexagonal shape of snowflakes has long been mysterious, but German astronomer Johannes Kepler‘s groundbreaking theory about the hexagonal shape of snowflakes in 1611 proved right 400 years later. Cox explains that the hexagonal shape of snowflakes is due to the crystal lattice of water atoms. Although each snowflake has a hexagonal shape, they appear unique due to the intricate symmetry of the lattice.

Fun fact: snowflakes aren’t actually white; they’re clear. The unique crystal structures of snowflakes work as diffraction gratings that split light into different colors. But since snowflakes are so small, we perceive them as white – the combination of all spectrum colors. The video briefly covers the development of the first photographs of snowflakes. You can find Wilson Snowflake Bentley’s mesmerizing snowflakes collection here.

Have you ever wondered why snowflakes have delicate designs or patterns? That’s because of the way water bonds to itself; molecules in the air bond to one another, creating intricate interlocking shapes. The molecules create a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and patterns, making each snowflake unique in appearance.

The science behind snowflakes is a complex yet fascinating phenomenon that catches the human eye and leaves us in wonder. In just 4 minutes, Brian Cox masterfully explains snowflakes’ intricate design and formation and how ever-changing surroundings create unique shapes and sizes. Science has unraveled the mystery of snowflakes, and it’s miraculous to think that something as simple as frozen water holds the power to create such captivating beauty.

Ali Kaya


Ali Kaya

This is Ali. Bespectacled and mustachioed father, math blogger, and soccer player. I also do consult for global math and science startups.

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