Include-Snowflake History Studies

scoresby snowflake illustration

Snow Flake Historic Discovery

  • The first mention of the hexagonal form in relation to a snow crystal was made in China by Han Ying in 135 BC, in the publication "Hanshi waizhuan" (Moral Discourses Illustrating the Han text of the "Book of Odes").

    "Flowers of plants and trees are in general five-pointed. However, flowers of snow, which are called ying, are always six-pointed."

  • Twelfth Century philosopher Zhu Xi theorized why snowflakes are always six-sided when he wrote:

    "The reason why snowflakes are six-pointed is because they are only half-frozen rain (xian) (i.e. water) split open by violent winds, and so they must be six-pointed. If one throws a lump of mud on the ground it will splash into a radiating, angular petal-like form. Now 6 is a yin number; and gypsum also is six-pointed with sharp prismatic angular edges. Everything is due to the number inherent in nature. "

  • Wang Kui wrote in "Lihaiji" in c.1390:

    "Snow is the ultimate (state) of yin and completely possesses the number of Water (i.e. 6). Every snow-flake is six-pointed. Frost and snow are due to the condensation of rain and dew. Water is is generatd by Metal. A surplus of qi reveals the Mother (i.e. Metal). Hence frost and snow are all white."

Modern Snowflake Explorers

  • Robert Hooke published a Micrographia in 1665. He was the first person to apply the word "cell" to biological objects.
  • The Snowflake Man: Wilson A. Bentley was one of the first known photographers of snowflakes.
  • Snow Crystals: Natural and Artificial Nakaya Snowflake Classifications
  • rare manuscript publisher
  • Snowflakes by Kenneth G. Libbrecht, the current world expert in snow and ice studies.

Read Kenneth Libbrecht's "Snowflakes" for more information.

Learn More about William Scoresby:

Early Snowflake Scientific Characterizations & Illustrations

Earliest Mentions Source: Li, Qi and Shu: An Introduction to Science and Civilization in China (Dover Science Books).

Weather Resources:

While researching about the history of snowflake exploration, I sifted through the Internet and bookstores to extract any tiny bit of information I could possibly find about ice and snow crystals scientists and explorers.

It is pretty fascinating, the degree of efforts these people went through to gather this wonderful data about snowflakes.

One of the more fascinating finds is the Haeckel's Art Forms from Nature publication. He didn't study snowflakes, but he did illustrate minute ocean life which he hand-illustrated and cataloged while he observed the life forms through the eye of a new invention, the microscope.

The resulting images are absolutely jaw-droppingly awesome. I included a small sample of Haeckel's images so that children can be introduced to such wonder.

  • Haeckel's Art Forms from Nature CD-ROM and Book (Dover Electronic Clip Art
  • Ship Helm

    Snowflake Explorers

    For as long as humans have inhabited the Earth we have been both fascinated and frustrated by snow, ice and adverse weather conditions. With the invention of the microscope, the tiny mysterious crystals of ice have been brought into focus as stunningly beautiful...and still quite mysterious.

    Thanks to the efforts, imaginations and talents of artic explorers and scientists, the mystery of the snowflake and ice crystal formation is becoming, well, less mysterious with each passing day. Snow crystal classification is important for determining snow conditions. For instance, very heavy snow can cause roofs of houses and buildings to cave in, make tree limbs snap and break power lines.

    Ski resorts and other winter vacation spots depend upon heavy snowfall and blizzards to keep their ski slopes packed full of good, soft, skiable snow. When they don't get enough snow some resorts make their own snow with snow-making machines.

    Modern Day and Early Snow Crystal Scientific Explorers

    Snowstorms develop when warm, moist air collides with cold air. Blizzards are heavy falling snow storms that come with high winds that blow the snow so hard sometimes you can't see anything around you.

    Blizzards are very dangerous snow conditions for people driving cars or trucks or flying in airplanes. Crystal classification helps predict such adverse conditions.

    The scientists and explorers have all contributed toward our collective knowledge of snow conditions.