Snowflake Bentley & His Unique Snowflakes

Posted on December 28, 2015 by Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

“No two snowflakes are alike”- Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley

Many of us have probably heard this old adage, but how true is this? And if it is true, why?

Snowflake Bentley Snowflake 3
Source: WILSON BENTLEY

Before we get to the science, let’s go on a personal tangent.

Growing up in Vermont, one doesn’t learn about many “Vermont Heroes.” In school we learn about the two presidents from Vermont, Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allan, and a winter loving photographer named Snowflake Bentley.

As a child, I had little interest in politics, and wars scared me, but Snowflake Bentley was a Vermont Hero with whom I could get onboard.

I was first introduced to his story by an incredible librarian (thanks Ms. Crosby) who read us the book “Snowflake Bentley,” written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, and beautifully illustrated by Mary Azarian. I was enthralled! When you grow up in a place that is snow-covered for a significant portion of the year, you can easily forget that the snowbanks your car gets stuck in, the snowballs you fling at your siblings, and the snowmen you make are all made up of tiny, unique snowflakes.  Snow really is a marvel of nature!

And now to the science.

Why are snowflakes unique? How do they even form? What shapes them? For answers to these questions, let’s turn to one of EWC’s favorite YouTube channels, It’s Okay To Be Smart:

Fascinating! So, the next time you find yourself faced with a massive pile of snow to shovel (or for you in warmer climates, thinking about the piles of snow we are shoveling) remember that the millions and millions of flakes that make up that shovel-full are all a unique combination of the forces and molecules that brought them to your driveway.

A little more from Snowflake Bentley…

Because, as a Vermonter, I couldn’t leave you without a few more images by one of my macro-photography heroes, here are just a few examples of the legendary images of Snowflake Bentley (I have a few of these hung on the wall behind me).

Snowflake Bentley Snowflake 1
Source: WILSON BENTLEY
Snowflake Bentley Snowflake 2
SOURCE: WILSON BENTLEY
Snowflake Bentley Snowflake 4
SOURCE: WILSON BENTLEY
Snowflake Bentley Snowflake 5
SOURCE: WILSON BENTLEY
Snowflake Bentley Snowflake 6
SOURCE: WILSON BENTLEY
Snowflake Bentley Snowflake 7
SOURCE: WILSON BENTLEY

There you have it; a little more knowledge about the winter world, and a very brief introduction to the work of one of my favorite fellow Vermonters!

-Liesl
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”-Victor Borge

Liesl can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV


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