Mathematical Model Computes Snow Flake Shapes for the First Time

Wednesday - February 15, 2012

Image - Diagram of snowflake morphologies

Back in 1954, the Japanese physicist Ukichiro Nakaya published a landmark study on the nature of snowflakes. He classified flakes into various categories and even discovered how to grow them in laboratory conditions, the first time this had been done.

Nakaya discovered snow flakes form when supersaturated vapor cools below zero, but also that their shape is highly sensitive to both the level of supersaturation and the temperature. His diagram summarizing his results has since become famous.