PetaPixel

Captivating Microscopic Time-Lapse Video Captures the Formation of Snowflakes

This is just plain beautiful, no matter which way you slice it. Using the magic of time-lapse photography and microscopy, Vyacheslav Ivanov captured the formation of those ice crystals we call snowflakes that caused so much grief in the northeastern US over the past several weeks.

Mesmerizing, captivating, pick your adjective, the time-lapse will have you glued to the screen and help you to remember that this crazy world we live in is beautiful from the smallest scale on up.

snowflake

Robert Gonzalez over at iO9 gave us a crash course on snowflake formation to help the science lovers in the audience understand what exactly we’re looking at:

The ice crystal(s) in snowflakes owe their six-fold rotational symmetry to the hydrogen bonds in water molecules. As water freezes, water molecules bound to other water molecules crystallize into a hexagonal structure, where each point on the hexagon is an oxygen atom and each side of the hexagon is a hydrogen bonded to an oxygen. As freezing continues, more water molecules are added to this microscopic six-sided structure, causing it to grow in size into the six-sided macroscopic structure that we recognize as snow flakes.

Of course, you don’t need to know what it is or how it’s formed to appreciate the stunning microscopic footage above. So whether you’re still recovering from a crazy Saturday night or preparing for the week to come, click play and make sure you set the window to fullscreen and HD.

(via iO9 via Photojojo)


 
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  • NewYorkEd

    One step beyond.

  • Rigel

    Watching that part at 1:37 makes me think that this is actually in reverse, as it would be much easier to record melting snowflakes. The snowflake seems to form along a path that is already there.

  • NewYorkEd

    One step backwards.

  • rose maryawn

    My Uncle Jacob got a year 2013 Audi TT RS Coupe by working
    part time online. imp source C­a­s­h­D­u­t­i­e­s­.­ℂ­o­m

  • arkhunter

    That was my thought too. I’m not sure how you would spawn a snowflake to grow on a microscope slide (or anywhere). I was guessing they were melting too.

  • Don Komarechka

    Yes, let’s be clear about it: this is reverse timelapse footage of snowflakes melting, not growing. Many of these snowflakes would have grown with sharp hexagonal corners that become rounded as the crystal melts, and continue to grow rounder as they melt. Many crystals feature central ridges of thicker ice that melt slower, but don’t grow faster – these are easily seen in the footage and make it a dead giveaway that this is timelapse of melting snowflakes being played in reverse.

    That said, it IS possible to do timelapse of growing snowflakes, but it’s incredibly difficult. The only person in the world who has accomplished this is Kenneth Libbrecht, professor of physics at Caltech and author of numerous books on the subject of snowflakes. He produced the footage for the BBC, and it’s no easy task.

    I’m something of a snowflake expert myself, and this video is pretty cool – but also deceptive.

  • greenarcher02

    Where can we find the footage for the real growing snowflake?

  • dbur

    so why don’t you give us the link?

  • greenarcher02

    sorry, for some reason links were not showing…

    http ://www .youtube .com/ watch?v=sVXndTWRXgk

  • dbur

    Thanks!

  • Vyacheslav Ivanov

    ok)) this is not growind. but it is not meltind)) where is water? this is evaporation.
    I spent a lot of time to create a setup for growing snowflakes.and generally I did. but artificial snowflakes but not so beautiful)) as Kenneth Libbrecht.

    Vyacheslav Ivanov

  • Vyacheslav Ivanov

    ok)) this is not growind. but it is not meltind)) where is water? this is evaporation.
    I
    spent a lot of time to create a setup for growing snowflakes.and
    generally I did. but artificial snowflakes but not so beautiful)) as
    Kenneth Libbrecht.

    Vyacheslav Ivanov

  • greenarcher02

    Or condensation? If it’s straight from solid to gas… or was it sublimation? I forgot my science terms…

  • Don Komarechka

    Sublimation is the correct science term greenarcher02 and Vyacheslav Ivanov, changing from a solid to a gas without first becoming a liquid. If snow is simply left on it’s own, even in cold temperatures it will sublimate quite quickly, and in a matter of hours you’ll see this transformation.

    greenarcher02, the footage you found it quite old, Ken’s new footage is a million times better – but the BBC hasn’t posted it for “free” anywhere.

  • Vyacheslav Ivanov

    sublimation of course. in Russian is one word. this phase transition from gas to ice

  • Vyacheslav Ivanov

    Ice to gas

  • Vyacheslav Ivanov

    this occurs for 10 minutes at -10

  • Don Komarechka

    Thanks for clarifying the video, Vyacheslav. However, I’m still curious why you’re representing this as snowflake growth. Many people have identified this as you’ve shown it, giving documentary value where there is none. The true “fascination” factor here is false, and it just rubs me the wrong way.

    It’s still a very cool video – I just wish it was showing what it truly represents.

  • Vyacheslav Ivanov

    this is video. people understand it as they want. I never wrote that it is the growth of snowflakes. I did it on purpose. I was wondering whether ktonibud guess or not. I did not cheat. I just took it.