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Jennifer, you will enjoy sunny southern CA. In the Winter you are never far from snowy mountains, like Mount Wilson. Nakaya's work shows how much of a contribution a physicist can make working outside the field. Unlike NYC, you are far from tsunami zones.

"She's never seen snow before, since it's a very rare occurrence in rural Georgia."
You mean rural Alabama?

I was in LA last weekend, but alas didn't see any snow (except on the mountains). Too bad, because I love snow. It was so rare to see it where I grew rural Mississippi.

Um, **To Kill a Mockingbird** takes place in Maycomb, Alabama (a fictional town supposedly based on Monroeville, I believe).

A couple of years ago I got into my car one morning, and noticed how beautiful the snow flakes were that were falling on my car windows. I went back inside, put the macro lens on my camera and got this shot:

It's a big image as I wanted to preserve all the detail I could.

What I find very interesting, is that the actual flake forms in the normal hexagonal way. the streaky, spiderwebbish growth appears to be the form that ice crystals were forming on the surface of the glass. Given that evidence, I think you can clearly identify how big the central flake was when it landed on the glass, with the tips of the flake then growing in the spiderweb fashion out from the ends to produce a kind of hybrid ice structure.

Beautiful in any case.


I have never understood what people mean when they say no two snowflakes are the same. Surely all crystalline structures have flaws and thus the occurrence of any two identical structures (even with something like table salt) is unlikely... maybe I am missing something?

I've always loved the names of the types of snowflakes. Bullet rosettes, Graupel, arrowhead twins - the limited number, the ability to see these things as well as place them in our immediate reality makes their names much more appealing than the dry and arcane names we give things like molecules or nebula clouds.

Let's not forget the contribution to snowflakeology of "Snowflake" Bentley, a Vermont farmer who was the first to photograph individual snowflakes back in 1885!

We too have had an unusually cold winter here in Grants Pass, OR. With snow that is sticking around quite a while and really cold temperatures. I found the comment “But it snowed in Los Angeles this week! Los Angeles, people! As in, southern California, land of the orange groves, and my soon-to-be-hometown.” Interesting as this is where I grew up and had a thriving business until recently when circumstances forced me to move here.
As an amateur meteorologist, in my research I find these weather extremes interesting (the extreme cold that grips the Northern Hemisphere while the Southern Hemisphere bakes), I personally believe we are not necessarily warming, but headed to extremes of cold winters and hot summers.


That's a great snowflake site - we've been enjoying it at work here today. (Yes, I'm hardly working.)Thanks.

Rob Beagrie, your question is addressed here:

Thanks very much for the link TBB. An interesting answer to an interesting question.

Three inches in less than an hour, that's really unfair. We haven't had any snow here in south east England for over a year.

Here's a cute snowflake-themed t-shirt, by the way:

You (meaning Jennifer and anyone who enjoyed this post) may be interested in and article by Libbrecht in the current American Scientist: (subscription required, but it's in many libraries & bookstores)

Extremes of weather? Here in SE Michigan, the trend has been towards mild weather. Little snow in winter, and fewer heat waves in summer. Last summer, i ran my A/C just one day. And that was mostly to prove it still works.

All right. I like it hot. But we're just now getting a good cold wave, and a light dusting of snow.

... I'm dreaming of a brown Christmas...
... Just like the one we had last year...

(this comes out better than you'd expect - I have some voice training)

On an entirely different note, I just _have_ to bring up a particularly choice subject - Rupert Sheldrake.

In his book "The Presence of the Past - Morphic Fields and the Habits of Nature", Sheldrake asks the following question: how does a snowflake know how to be symmetric? That is, as a hexagonally symmetric snowflake develops it develops identical features at (six or more)widely separated points. How does this happen? How does the process know to develop identical features and branchings at just the right places to maintain symmetry?

It's a fun question, and I have my own explanation, but I thought I'd throw it out for discussion.

Sheldrake, for those who aren't aware of him, explains this by positing "morphic fields" which contain the essence of shape (and all sorts of other information)and which provide a pre-existing template for the arms of the snowflake to use. Repeated use of a morphic field strengthens the field, causing that morphology to be used more frequently. And that's why snowflakes look the way they do.

Hey Jennifer, I remember walking up that hill to your parents house with you! It was about 1977, can't remember if there was snow. Mom showed me an article about you, and I decided to send you a line just for fun. Be glad to hear from you sometime. Give me a call when you are back in town. Best of Luck,

Theresa R

Morphogenetic fields have been speculated for over 100 years. They could be responsible for the form of an organism. Sheldrake later refined this theory to account for a wider range of phenomenon - like collective consciousness, etc.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.