Snow Flake Studies and Historic Discovery
While researching about the history of snowflake exploration, I really sifted through the Internet and bookstores to extract any tiny bit of information I could possibly find about scientists and explorers who talked about ice and snow crystals.
It is pretty fascinating, once you realize the degree of efforts these men went through to gather this wonderful data.
One of the more fascinating finds is the Haeckel's Art Forms from Nature publication. He didn't study snowflakes, but he did illustrate minute ocean life which he hand-illustrated and catalogued while he observed the life forms through the eye of a new invention, the microscope.
The resulting images are absolutely jaw-droppingly awesome. I included a small sample of Haeckel's images so that children can be introduced to such wonder.
Haeckel's Art Forms from Nature CD-ROM and Book (Dover Electronic Clip Art
1665 -- Robert Hooke Micrographia
The Snowflake Man: A Biography of Wilson A. Bentley, More than 2were published in 1931
Snow, by Ruth Kirk
Snow Crystals: Natural and Artificial Nakaya Snowflake Classifications
Octavo.com rare manuscript publisher
Snowflakes by Kenneth G. Libbrecht, the current world expert in snow and ice studies.
The Unsolved Mystery of Saturn's Hexagon.
Modern Snowflake Explorers
Read Kenneth Libbrecht's "Snowflakes" for more information.
Early Snowflake Scientific Characterizations & Illustrations
Earliest Mentions of Snow Crystals in Literature
Earliest documented mentions of snow shape and formation:
The first mention of the hexagonal form in relation to a snow crystal was made in China by Han Ying in 135 BC, in the publication "Hanshi waizhuan" (Moral Discourses Illustrating the Han text of the "Book of Odes").
"Flowers of plants and trees are in general five-pointed. However, flowers of snow, which are called ying, are always six-pointed."
Twelfth Century philosopher Zhu Xi theorized why snowflakes are always six-sided when he wrote:
"The reason why snowflakes are six-pointed is because they are only half-frozen rain (xian) (i.e. water) split open by violent winds, and so they must be six-pointed. If one throws a lump of mud on the ground it will splash into a radiating, angular petal-like form. Now 6 is a yin number; and gypsum also is six-pointed with sharp prismatic angular edges. Everything is due to the number inherent in nature. "
Wang Kui wrote in "Lihaiji" in c.1390:
"Snow is the ultimate (state) of yin and completely possesses the number of Water (i.e. 6). Every snow-flake is six-pointed. Frost and snow are due to the condensation of rain and dew. Water is is generatd by Metal. A surplus of qi reveals the Mother (i.e. Metal). Hence frost and snow are all white."
Earliest Mentions Source: Li, Qi and Shu: An Introduction to Science and Civilization in China (Dover Science Books).