Remember folks, snowflakes are always hexagonal. Never four-sided, never five-sided, never eight-sided.
@1: But I'll bet you don't know why.
@ 5280: It's got to do with a hexagonal crystalline molecular structure - right? I seem to recall this also explaining why ice has a lower density than water...
Partial credit. Yes, it's the hexagonal crystalline structure, but why hexagonal?
Hmmm...hydrogen bonds and atomic polarity? The hexagonal structure most efficiently allows the hydrogen atoms in a molecule of H20 to bond with other oxygen atoms...
Correct. Very good.
I just think it's funny that nobody who looks at something as "macro" as a snowflake would ever suspect that everything you see is a result of what's happening on very "micro" levels.
WelI I'll admit, I had the wiki a little on the last bit. Still I'm rather pleased I remembered the phrases 'hydrogen bond' and 'atomic polarity' from that freshman chem series. Now the question for you: why do metals exhibit similar qualities to ice in terms of density?
Don't know off the top of my head, but metals definitely form crystalline structures as well. I'm sure that's at least a partial answer to your question.
Damn, I love science.
Nature is an endless combination and repetition of a very few laws. She hums the old well-known air through innumerable variations. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm a bit partial to the three-fold symmetry snowflakes. I agree that Libbrecht's photos are enchanting.

Hi Kim--happy belated birthday, a wonderful Christmas to you, safe travels, and good whisky to see you through your wireless isolation. Another commenter mentioned that a favorite aunt had the same birthday as you; same for me with a beloved late auntie.
I'm polarizing my snowflake cattle prod as we speak, using OuterCow's hair and a balloon.
@7: I think it's funny that you would think that.
Dammit Mary, you're doing it again...
yes, those snowflake pictures are fantastic, but if someone is going to make me click next next next (advertise advertise advertise) to see each damn one, I'm not going to look at too many. One, to be exact.
@7 should be the front runner for Most Arrogant Comment of 2010.

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