All the snow this week has reminded me of when I was sitting in a cafe before Christmas 2011 and I spotted the above pentagon-based snowflakes. When normal water freezes at average temperatures and forms snowflakes*, they will always have a hexagonal-based shape. But for some reason, all around us are pentagon, octagon and all sorts of bizarreagon shaped snowflakes. Which I take to represent a complete disregard for maths, physics and chemistry.
At the time, I put the pentagon snowflake up on twitter and started the #snowfake campaign to name-and-shame all those involved in the non-hexagon-based-snowfake trade. Needless to say, the internet joined in.
But like the rest of the internet, it has all been done before. I had first had non-hexagon snowflakes brought to my attention in a talk by Philip Ball, who has already written a blog-post about it as well as being published in Nature on the same day I was sat in the cafe.
Then I was contact by the Campaign for Real Snowflakes who have an impressive collection of snowfakes.
Since then, people have drawn my attention all manner of different snowfakes, including this dispointing effort from Google of all people:
So, the name-and-shaming of #snowfakes is taken care of (but please do keep tweeting examples at me); it’s time to take a positive step of action, and fill the world with mathematically accurate snowflakes.
Make your own:
As always, when in need of a mathematical activity, nrich has the answer. They have great snowflake folding instructions. And a number of people greater than one have drawn my attention to the Star Wars folded snowflakes.
*Yes, I know you can make water do strange things when it freezes when it’s at unusual temperatures and pressures, but I’m only worried about traditional snowflakes here. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m a big fan of other crystals, quasi or otherwise. If I lived on Iota, this would be a whole different campaign.