Monday, March 9, 2009

How to make a snowflake

If I were God (and I fully acknowledge I am not), I would spend all day creating snowflakes. Crystaline wonders thrown like sparkling diamonds against the sky.

Sadly, I don't have a clue how to make a snowflake. But scientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of California at Davis do. David Griffeath and Janko Gravner have developed a complex algorithm that describes the snowmaking process. The model requires complex calculations, tremendous computing power, and an entire day to create a single virtual snowflake. Griffeath says the flakes feature "fern-life stars, long needles and chunky prisms, but also fine elements such as tiny ridges that run along the arms and weird, circular surface markings."

To view more of the scientists' beautiful creations, visit Gravner/Griffeath Snowfakes - yes, snowfakes, not snowflakes! If you want to learn more about the actual algorithm, check out
Modeling snow crystal growth: a three-dimensional mesoscopic approach.

In the meantime, perhaps Gravner and Griffeath could start work on creating forsythia and crocuses. I'm ready for spring!

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