Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"The last day of winter" ???

More snow on the "last day of winter"-fortunately it melted quickly with the warming temperatures during the afternoon.  But there is still a fair amount of snow on the ground an ice on the lake.

Maybe we can try to appreciate observing the changing shapes of the snowflakes, as warmer weather tends to produce the sonwflakes with extensive branching paterns.

Snowflakes form when cold water droplets freeze onto dust particles.  The resulting ice crystals will grow into different shapes based on the temperature and humidity of the air where the snowflakes form.

Effects of temperature and humidity on snowflake formation.
Image Credit: Kenneth Libbrecht.
Snowflakes formed in temperatures below – 22 degrees Celsius (- 7.6 degrees Fahrenheit) consist primarily of simple crystal plates and columns whereas snowflakes with extensive branching patterns are formed in warmer temperatures. The most intricate snowflake patterns are formed when there is moisture in the air. Snowflakes produced in drier conditions tend to have simpler shapes.

Just curious to find out more about "fractals" after hearing these lyrics from the movie Frozen so often lately:

My power flurries through the air into the ground.
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back; the past is in the past!
-Idina Menzel - (Disney's Frozen) Let It Go Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Crystallizing water forms repeating patterns in snowflakes and on frosty surfaces illustrating examples of fractals found in nature.

From sea shells and spiral galaxies to the structure of human lungs, the patterns of chaos are all around us. Fractals are patterns formed from chaotic equations and contain self-similar patterns of complexity increasing with magnification. If you divide a fractal pattern into parts you get a nearly identical reduced-size copy of the whole.The mathematical beauty of fractals is that infinite complexity is formed with relatively simple equations. By iterating or repeating fractal-generating equations many times, random outputs create beautiful patterns that are unique, yet recognizable.

Maybe reflecting on some of quiet beauty over the past winter, will remind us of the beauty of the season this year with it's continuous snow cover.  (The snowmobilers seemed to appreciate it…)

As "winter" comes to an end astronomically speaking, reminiscing with some of my favorite shots of winter of 2014 taken at nearby High Cliff Stat Park by our son, Bryan.

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