You might have learned in school that there are three phases of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. That is a useful simplification for young students, but there are in fact many, many more. In the past century or so, we've discovered that there are hundreds of distinct solid phases--some of which are used to build the silicon chips that run your computer. In addition, there are dozens of liquid crystal phases--some of which create the images on your laptop screen. And that's before we even get to the really exotic stuff: quantum phases like superfluids, quark-gluon plasma, Bose-Einstein condensates, and the so-called "topological phases."1
A renowned photographer has captured the highest resolution shots of snowflakes ever using a homemade prototype described as one part microscope and one part camera. Nathan Myhrvold, an American scientist, inventor, photographer and ex-chief technology officer of Microsoft, took 18 months to build the 100 megapixel camera capable of capturing a snowflake's microscopic detail. Using the camera, which he describes as the'highest resolution snowflake camera in the world', he took 100 frames of each snowflake in quick succession then stacked them for the whole image to be in focus. The results show the lush variety of snowflakes measuring only a few tens of millimetres in diameter, captured when Myhrvold was in Alaska and Canada. Pictured, stellar dendrite captured in Yellowknife, Canada.
In winter you'll often hear meteorologists refer to two types of snowmakers, a Nor'easter and an Alberta Clipper. But just because these winter storms make snow, doesn't make them the same. Snow is an all-too-familiar feature of the colder months across much of the U.S., but how much do you know about the science of snowflakes? There will be plenty of snowflakes falling on Wednesday with a major Nor'easter expected to bring heavy snow. "A snowflake begins to form when an extremely cold water droplet freezes onto a pollen or dust particle in the sky," explains NOAA on its website.
In the late 1800s, a self-educated Vermont farmer by the name of Wilson Bentley made the first successful image, or "photomicrograph," of a single snowflake. He used a bellows camera attached to a microscope. Some of Bentley's striking work was published in National Geographic magazine in 1904. Another series of his images ran in 1923, highlighting the delicate beauty and unique geometry of snow crystals. Today, we still marvel at the way the tiny flakes reflect and refract light, and how no two seem to be exactly alike.
Capturing snowflakes on film can be quite the feat, as photographers have mere before the tiny ice crystal's intricate details melt – but a new video shows the event in reverse. Photographer Jens recently shared a stunning video showing already melted snowflakes freezing back to their original form. Each shot begins with a small droplet of water that begins to sprout icicles until it returns to the unique design. The movie was done using highly detailed macro photography, which is capable of making very small object look larger than life size. Capturing snowflakes on film can be quite the feat, as photographers have mere before the tiny ice crystal's intricate details melt – but a new video shows the event in reverse.