Ice – Flakes and Frost (Memorial Program)
Music; Ambience: Arctic Wind
JM: Did you ever wonder just how it could be that every snowflake is unique, different from all others? Well, it’s all in the falling. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. This program is in memory of Mariana Gosnell, author of “Ice the Nature, the History and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance.”
MG: “A snowflake has a long fall through the air. And it starts an ice crystal in the air and then it picks up vapor as it goes down and it just builds. It has arms and it has branches from those and it’s constantly encountering other temperatures and little eddies of air and it takes on a certain shape so that by the time it reaches earth it can be sometimes very elaborate.”
JM: Another familiar form of winter white is frost.
MG: “Frost has been called “snowflakes growing on the ground.” And when you have frost on a windowpane, that’s yet another slightly different microenvironment. You have a cold pane and you have moisture in your kitchen or wherever. And it sometimes will build on a little scratch on the windowpane; it gets started on a scratch. And then it follows that for a while. But then it’ll branch, because again it has slightly different kinds of currents passing over it. And it will make these wonderful, almost floral, shapes. You know, these tiny little changes can change where a branch goes or change where a little tip will grow longer. And, the possibilities do seem endless.
JM: Check out our podcasts on pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.