Nathan Myhrvold’s Snowflakes Have Similar Structure to Flowers

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By Jill  Brooke

Since most of the country is blanketed with snow, a fun fact has been discovered.

Tech genius Nathan Myhrvold, a former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, spent a fortune on his passion to create the highest resolution camera for a snowflake’s structure.

The results show that every snowflake has its own unique launching pad shaped often like a hexagon. And of course, many flowers do as well!

As this innovative creator of food innovation lab Modernist Cuisine told Modern Met, “In the environment where snowflakes form, you get some event that starts a little plate. Other water molecules want to join, but they only want to join where they can make this hexagonal pattern.” It’s as though snowflakes branch out to make friends.

Mixing his skills as a scientist and photographer, he spent 15 years thinking about this idea after meeting Kenneth Libbrecht, a California Institute of Technology professor who happened to be studying the physics of snowflakes. But it was only two years ago that he started in earnest to create this extraordinary camera.

Photographing snowflakes is nothing new. In the late 1880s, a Vermont farmer by the name of Wilson Bentley began shooting snowflakes at a microscopic level on his farm. Today he’s considered a pioneer for his work, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. His photography is considered the inspiration for the common wisdom that “no two snowflakes are alike.”

Now, more than a century later, the field of snowflake photography has a new awareness as a result of the high-res images that Myhrvold has produced with his own camera.

The hectagon, with its 8 sides, has always housed a spiritual component with the number believed to vibrate expansively to infinity. Not a surprise that nature’s gifts such as flowers and snowflakes have these architectural underpinnings.

I’m hoping that this brilliant man starts examining the similarities between science, snowflakes and flowers.

Can you guess which flowers have similar structures? Let’s start with Queen Anne’s lace.  Any others you can think of?

Speaking of snowflakes and how flowers have structures in common, check out this snowy inspiration from the wonderful Lewis Miller Design. His team are the Pied Piper of Petals and delight New Yorkers with his Flower Flash exhibits throughout the city.

This one in our lead photo is on West Broadway & White Street if you are in the neighborhood.

But it does capture the connection between flowers and snow in a fun way.

Photo Credit: Nathan Myhrvold, No Two Alike. Photo courtesy of Modernist Cuisine Gallery.

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