© TothGaborGyula/Getty Images Plu
You’ve never seen anything like this
This macrophotograph of a snowflake shows the classic, six-sided structure that people come to associate with this tiny winter marvel (in colder countries, that is. In India, you could experience snowflakes in some parts of the Himalayan region). Until the advent of macro- and micro-photography in the late 1800s, it was impossible to study the structure of snowflakes—they melted too quickly to be accurately sketched under a microscope. Enter Wilson 'Snowflake' Bentley. A farmer and self-trained scientist from Jericho, Vermont (New England region, USA), Bentley was the first person to successfully photograph an individual snowflake. Over his lifetime, he would produce over 5,000 different images, a feat that led him to be the first to observe that every snowflake is unique.
Bentley backed up his observation with some math and meteorology as well. He understood that snowflakes form as they fall through the sky, and their growth and appearance are shaped by hundreds of changing conditions, from altitude, temperature, humidity, and more. The combinations multiply exponentially until there are more design possibilities than molecules on earth.