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Crest of Winter | by Don Komarechka
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Crest of Winter

This is a symbolic snowflake. I have often admired the fact that many people use snowflakes as proof that God exists, while others use these natural constructs as evidence to soften that certainty. I don’t consider this divisive; quite the opposite, there is a sense of inclusiveness. Everyone finds something to respect in such a tiny crystal from the sky.

 

Whether you identify a hexagram shape as synonymous with the Star of David, or you curiously measure the 60-degree angles created by the molecular bonds of water ice extrapolated onto a macro scale, one thing is for certain: a snowflake such as this is beautiful. That leads me to an interesting question – what is beauty?

 

I’m sure we all define it differently. In general, symmetry is beautiful. As is repeating patterns, balance and geometry. Personally, I find beauty in the puzzles that these structures present, as well as any blemishes that break the pattern. Everyone has their own valid opinions for this definition.

 

Keep in mind that this is just a collection of ordered water molecules. While the number of molecular connections is constantly in flux, I don’t think I’m wrong to call it an inanimate object. It just “is”. It is not beautiful as some sort of physical property that can be measured. Therein lies the real treasure: the discovery that beauty is not within the objects that we see, but in how we perceive them. This is a concept that bridges the gap between theology and science. Scientists would say that God did not create this snowflake, citing all we know about the related natural environmental physics. Theologians could easily make a counter-argument, posing a simple question. “How, then, is something so miniscule and inconsequential to our survival perceived with such admiration?”

 

The debate could rage on, as it always has; each side providing more evidence, more anecdotes, analogies, history and facts. Both sides need not be wrong. All discussed over the simple symbolism of a snowflake.

 

From a physics standpoint, this snowflake has a few curious and unique features. Bubbles in the ice usually cast a shadow on the bottom surface of the ice, and the offset of the shadow determines the thickness of the ice underneath it (thereby showing the position of the bubble within the ice). The large central hexagon has a greater shadow offset than the frilly “frame” around it, suggesting that these two bubbles are growing at different levels within the ice. This is further supported by the small rainbow-coloured ovals adorning each side of every corner – they have shadows independent of the larger hexagon as well, defining them as separate structures on a different layer within the ice.

 

Snowflakes have more depth than we normally give them credit for – both in a physical and philosophical way.

 

If you’re curious how these snowflake images are created, as well as all of my macro work, be sure to check out my upcoming book on the topic: skycrystals.ca/product/pre-order-macro-photography-the-un...

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Taken on February 15, 2021