How do we really know that no two snowflakes are ever alike?

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How do we really know that no two snowflakes are ever alike?

In: Planetary Science

25 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

We don’t and that is not remotely true. Snowflakes are often very much alike and essentially identical.

Like many common expressions, this does not reflect actual scientific reality and is just a saying.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The way a snowflake forms is EXTREMELY dependent on air pressure, humidity, temperatures, and dust in the air, with even the slightest fluctuations changing how they form. Scientists can grow snowflakes in labs, but even then it’s nearly impossible to grow two identical snowflakes. Now consider that snowflakes are forming as they fall through the turbulent atmosphere that’s constantly changing moment by moment and from inch to inch.

Anonymous 0 Comments

We dont know for sure, but there are so many possible versions of a snowflakes that it’s statistically very very unlikely to find two alike. If we would compare every snowflake thats ever fallen on earth, we would still be unlikely to find two identical ones, though we would find many very similar ones.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Nothing in the macroscopic world are identical if you look deep down enough.

There is certainly some molecular level differences in anything you compare.

This is just from some old saying that happened to live.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I don’t really have a good, simple explanation myself, but I saw this and it’s absolutely fascinating.

Anonymous 0 Comments

“We don’t”. 

There is no magical auditor stopping every snowflake in mid-air and checking to make sure they’re unique. 

It’s just *super unlikely* that two of them would be exactly the same, at the same time, in the same place. 

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because there’s so many possible ways a snowflake can form. Not even looking at pressure, temp, etc. a snowflake has so many atoms in it that it is essentially never going to happen that two are EXACTLY the same.

Sounds interesting but if you think about it, that sandwich you just ate was likely unique as well. There’s trillions and trillions of molecules in there, and even just having one more or one less molecule makes it not exactly the same.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s a statistical saying. 

It depends how close “identical” means (does every atom need to be in the exact position?), but it’s almost certain that 2 snowflakes that have ever fallen would be indistinguishable to s regular person because of the birthday paradox: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_problem

Also identical fingerprints are possible (identical in the sense that the number of features looked at to determine a match is finite, and is statistically possible to find 2 matching people).

Anonymous 0 Comments

Picture a cool Lego set made out of one million Lego pieces, in the shape of a snowflake.

Now, move one single piece anywhere on the snowflake.

Boom, that’s a unique snowflake.

Repeat that process, except the Lego set has more like 100 billion pieces. That’s how “every snowflake is unique”.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Well, Guinness records the first finding of two identical snowflakes in 1988 by Nancy Knight

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/first-indentical-snow-crystals

However, as other commenters have said, how close do you want to look, as the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research lists Ms Knight’s discovery as “nearly identical.”

https://opensky.ucar.edu/islandora/object/imagegallery%3A2586

And, to be fair, these are “snow crystals”, but potato tomato.