Snowflakes Up Close: A Small, Fragile World

If you’re one of those people who likes to ponder things while looking out a frosty window on a cold winter day, these pictures will clear up one of those long standing wonders: each snowflake really IS unique. Some look like roman columns, others circuit boards or spaceships. Taken under high magnification using a microscope, these images bring a fragile and beautiful world into view.

They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it? – Jeanette Winterson


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  1. JerryHouse

    God gave us the ability to reason, to question, to be insatiably curious. We investigate, dissect, and continue to investigate the pieces. The cycle does’nt end.
    Science is the set of tools with which we try to understand creation. How it works, why it works, and how to continue to find new questions ( it’s not hard, questions are everywhere).
    Whatever your belief, creation seems to be infinite to we, very finite, humans. Think about what we don’t know and be amazed at the scope and beauty in that. Faith has a place alongside science.

  2. 8andimpala

    @justbeinme, Scientists didn’t create the snowflakes, and that obviously wasn’t what he was saying. You’d have to be an idiot to think that. “God” didn’t either, if you still believe in “god” in this day and age, where almost EVERYTHING can be explained by science (and the things that cant soon will be) then you’ve got some learning to do yourself. Don’t bring religion into this, just marvel at the wonders that nature can produce, no matter the force behind it, be it “god” or science.

  3. rockguy

    How anyone can believe in a god I will just never understand. No one makes the snowflakes its water in the atmosphere that freezes into ice. It’s quite obvious that humans long ago made up god to explain things in nature they could not. Now that we better understand how things work in our universe there is no need for a god. We understand that these are natural processes that are likely going on elsewhere in the universe. If you want to be religious fine, but focus on helping your fellow man as your religious figures would praise rather than trumpeting everything he “creates”.

  4. Dr. J

    How can a person say there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster when they see something like this? The Flying Spaghetti Monster created everything, even these beautiful snowflakes!! (And religion for those too stupid to understand science.). How come God NEVER answered any amputee’s prayers for eons until recently and then only partially by having scientists use the knowledge gained in part from the study of evolution to create ever better prostheses.

  5. CaliHeat

    It’s all about fractals. They are perhaps the most profound things in nature. Fractals seem to arise from chaotic functions, but somehow they have a pattern. Like these snowflakes, many fractals are symmetric which leads us to assume they are working under some type of “order.” If true order in the universe can be found, then there must be some intelligence behind it, because nature (as we know it) ALWAYS increases in entropy which is another word for randomness. This means that nature prefers disorder more than order. If we find order but somehow prove that the universe has no (intelligent) creator, then we must look OUTSIDE of our universe for the answers 0_o.

  6. Laura26

    How do you capture a snowflake and look at it under a microscope without it melting? :( I want to try

  7. eddie

    so the moon landing was a fake, they just took pictures of snowflakes with a scanning electron microscope.

  8. Lex Lugar

    Obviously close up its apparent that these are actually small nano-machines operated by remote operated duplicators. An infection on a vast scale replicating in mutant form. Simply UNIQUE.

  9. Psyonicwombat

    Yeah, yeah….. God created everything and He/She or It is cruel to starve babies, create cripples (p.s. I am a cripple), etc. This isn’t about What created the snow flake it’s about the truely stunning images that have been presented to us. The true intricacies of your average, bog standard snow flake are a marvel of Nature and the genius behind making them will never be known. But the genius who took these photos, who bothered his bum to show them to us he has to be thanked. So… Thank you, very much. Keep up the good work. Very well done.

  10. Jeff

    @Roy: Does anyone realize that the last picture is like a dozen atoms long?

    Um… I’m not sure if you’re joking, but I’m pretty sure you’re way off with that. Most atoms are under 500 picometres wide, and a picometre is a millionth of a micrometre (or micron).

  11. Bill H

    @Laura26. It isn’t that difficult. The real microscopic photos require a microscope adapter for your camera bus you can get some pretty nice closeup photos with a point and shoot. Here’s how. Get a 5x or 10x eye loupe at Harbor Freight. Turn on your camera do the lens tube extends from the body. Roll some doll house “stickum” into a thin rope and surround the outer edge of the lens. Stick the eye loupe to the stickum. You can now take very close-up pictures and your autofocus and exposure will still work. Just remember to remove the stuff before you shut off the camera. As far as the snow is concerned. You must work outside. I use a thick slab of black wax that I have pre-frozen. Take it outside and set it down to collect the snowflakes and use a feather to separate them. Zoom out your camera and move the camera forward and back to focus. A tripod helps. Snap you picture. WH

  12. llrc

    @ 8andimpala and ” Dr” J. , I find people like you very intriguing, to say the least. Why do you even take time putting quotations around the word God..just because you dont believe that there is a God? I see this so often —- why is it so un-cool to respect Christians..Im going to go out on a limb and say that you wouldn’t mock a Hindu, nor a Buddhist, nor a Jew for their beliefs… Why should anyone respect you for being a Scientologist if your not willing to respect others who are marveling at what their God created ? Its so crazy. You think your being so open minded and intelligent, but your your comments prove how close-minded and intolerant you are of differing peoples and their religion. It is differing believes and different people who make life interesting. Its the fact that other people disagree with you that make your opinions remotely valuable. Furthermore you are an obviously an elite member of society who knows that the 99 percent of the world who believes in a god is wrong and stupid.

    And to those of you who want to blame God for creating cripples or starving babies…seriously??? seriously???? so the reason you mock other peoples reasons for living, is because poverty exist ? because their God isnt a super hero from a cartoon who swoops down and saves everything and everyone ? because science exists and you got played a crumby hand then that means that you have to have this hatred for what/who other people fall asleep praying ?? get real? to the cripple, what are you going to say to the other cripple whos entire life revolves around God , the only reason to him/her that she got through the cruelty of middle school is because of God alone.. ?

    I am not even a strong believer.. in anything.. but I find it disgusting, all of this hatred and intolerance and UNTHOUGHTFULNESS that gets thrown around on a regular basis.. and sorry, but I know there are a lot of hypocritical Christians, hypocritical Jews, hypocritical anybodies… but the group of scientist out there who claim to not believe in God, you spend the most time on these forums talking about God. its ironic.

  13. Meticularius

    The intricate structures of a trillion times a trillion snowflake models defined by the power of limits, is just another heart-warming contrast of the almost infinite variety of matter-energy forms enjoyed by God, the father of Jesus, whom I like. He delights me with His depth and scope. My five year old granddaughter asks me questions from her depth of mind and she can’t discern or measure the depth of mine. Unlike God and Jesus at this time in our civilizational evolution, I am visible to my granddaughter, so she accepts me as part of her perceived reality. If I were invisible but audible she would hear me and believe I exist. I suggest we listen to the silence that extends way beyond the noisy snowflakes to hear a distant frequency we are often too stupid and arrogant to admit exists. -Meticularius

  14. Scano

    um, is it not possible that nature, and the way things bond, is MORE amazing than “god”. at a molecular level simple things, taken for granted by most, become, simply incredible!!!Thanks for the insight XXXOOO

  15. Jdogg

    Couldn’t have put it better myself rockguy. Entropy doesn’t really come into it with processes in that scale and crystallization can be explained but life still can’t. There’s an answer there somewhere, if we knew the question.

  16. Psyonicwombat


    Hi, I’m the so called, mocking cripple of which you speak. Sorry to go slightly off topic people. But, llrc, are you serious? I was in no way ‘mocking other peoples reasons for living’. I am a deeply religious person and the meer fact that you call me a mocker shows that YOU are a subversive person trying to drill home your own brand of ‘GOD’ and do so without even the slightest inkling of what I was getting at. I was not mocking any kind of religion, but pointing out that the photographs have shown us a beautiful world, which we are part of, yet that we have not seen. If you want to bring the Creative Force into this, then go ahead. But don’t you dare try and tell people that I am against ‘God’, by mocking what the majority of decent people of this world believe in. I use the word God in the sense of the All Powerful, Creative Force, Who or What you may call Him, Her or It. It dosen’t matter. It just matters that we can, for what ever reason, look upon these pics in wonderment. Religion is a personal thing so stop shoving it down our necks. As the funny David Allen used to say “May your God go with you”, even you llrc.

  17. aduggan90


    I find it ironic and disgusting that you say
    “why is it so un-cool to respect Christians..Im going to go out on a limb and say that you wouldn’t mock a Hindu, nor a Buddhist, nor a Jew for their beliefs… ”

    The Christians don’t have too great of a track record when it comes to that. They took it to the extreme too, they didn’t just mock you, they killed you if you didn’t believe what they believed in. So did many of the other religions, just the Christians got way out of hand. I’m guessing that you are American…do you have any idea how America was established? By forcing their religion down the natives throats and putting them on “reservations.” Now, I don’t label myself as anything because I don’t believe in anything, I have been that way since grade school. I wish people would respect my choices. They tell me I am going to burn in hell…you wouldn’t tell that to a Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist, Scientologist, Baptist, Catholic, (I think I’m proving my point), would you?

  18. Jester

    Why do the religious feel the need to display their beliefs in a public forum? Why does it have to be god that gets the praise? Keep your religion to yourself and the problem you have with people placing quotations around the word god never arises.

  19. EA

    I don’t know how snowflakes sparked a discussion about god, but honestly aduggan, I have always believed in what you say. Atheism should be treated as another religion. It’s a belief system and a choice, that for some reason in western culture it’s ok for religious people to malign. It’s just as rude for a christian to say: “you’re going to burn in hell”, as it is for me to say: “you are delusional and wasting your time and money on rituals for a nonexistent deity”. Why can’t we all respect each other’s beliefs? And why is it so widely accepted that atheists are fair game? Atheism isn’t an absence of faith. It’s just a different belief system worthy of the same respect as any other.

  20. jaleh

    To me it’s just math and science equations and formulas at their most basic visual form. They seem to have order and structure because they are falling into the laws of math and science….I think at least. Science and math explain so much in this world, but it is usually only explained through equations or scientific studies and formulas. The microscopic world has opened the doors to math and science in ways that give us humans a plethora of things to discover!!! Great, great pictures!!!

  21. jaleh

    oooo!!! Have any of you heard of the idea that water can pick up on our positive and negative energies. That if you yell “I HATE YOU!’ (and do ur best to really feel it) to some water, then freeze it…it will have very chaotic and strange looking crystal forms…but vs. saying a heart felt “Thank you, I love you” to water, and then freezing it, and the microscopic view of the crystals are beautifully structured and almost artistic. Has anyone heard of this?? I saw some video about it a year ago or so, but I just don’t know if it was all BS pseudo-science or not.

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