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The science of snowflakes - Maruša Bradač


12,893 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

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One could say that snowflakes are simply frozen water — but if you compare a snowflake to an ice cube, you’ll notice a big difference. Why are all snowflakes six-sided? Why are none of them exactly the same? And how do we ski on them? Maruša Bradač sheds light on the secret life of snowflakes.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

The phrase “no two snowflakes are alike” was first coined by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley (1865-1931). He admired the snowflakes and wrote: "Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated...When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”You can explore more about his life here.

The physics of how snowflakes form is very complex and some researchers devote their entire life studying these. One of them is the physicist Ken Libbrecht. Watch him while snowflake watching here and explore his webpage.

Peer through a magnifying glass at a snowflake, and you’ll see an ice creation more elaborate than anything Martha Stewart could cut from folded paper. So what’s behind the snowflake’s unique and elaborate shape?

See Radiolab's blog for more information and stunning photographs of snowflakes.

This animated short uses these sounds from freesound:

Water-DropsInCanal by solvis (
Cartoon-Spring-Bouncing-01 by Denis Chapon ( Chapon/)
Ice Cubes Dropped in a Glass by ftpalad (
Drain glug by majorasflask (
Steps on the ice by Oscar de Ávila ( de Ávila/)
Wind in Pine Trees by kangaroovindaloo (
005-GaugeBrightnessDialPassSeat by Chippy569 (
winding spring by baryy (
JM_IMPACT_01c – Snow on cement by Julien Matthey ( Matthey/)
eelke skiing by Eelke (
Powerdown2 & Foliage_Rustling_001 by duckduckponyy (
typewriter_type by tjandrasounds (
Lumimyrsky, lumi pöllyää, kahisee tuulessa / Snowstorm, snow drifting in a whistling wind, mix by YleArkisto (
ambience winter crow birds distant traffic construction by lwdickens (

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Maruša Bradač
  • Animator Lucas Millard, Kate Stryker
  • Composer Seth S. Scott
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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