Birthday of Snowflake Bentley
“Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated."
~ Wilson Bentley, 1925, from his report, leading to the adage that "No two snowflakes are alike."
Wilson Alwyn "Snowflake" Bentley, born this day in 1865, is one of the first known photographers of snowflakes. He perfected a process of catching flakes on black velvet in such a way that their images could be captured before they either melted or sublimated. The question of whether any two snowflakes are alike has been much studied with the conclusion that factors such as temperature, humidity, the seed for the first crystal, and the occasional deuterium molecule, make each small snowflake unique at the atomic level, if not the microscopic level.
Wilson Alwyn "Snowflake" Bentley, born this day in 1865 was the first known photographer of snowflakes. He perfected a process of catching flakes on black velvet in such a way that their images could be captured before they either melted or sublimated.
The techniques used by Bentley to photograph snowflakes are essentially the same as used today, and though the quality of his photographs reflect the technical limitations of the equipment of the era, his photographs were so striking that hardly anybody bothered to photograph snowflakes for almost the next 100 years. The broadest collection of Bentley's photographs is held by the Jericho Historical Society in his home town, Jericho, Vermont.
He would capture more than 5,000 images of crystals in his lifetime.
This tartan, by Carol A.L. Martin, reflects the different colors of ice and snow, shades of colors generated by the absorption of both red and yellow light (leaving light at the blue end of the visible light spectrum). The absorption spectrum of ice is similar to that of water, except that hydrogen bonding causes all peaks to shift to lower energy - making the color greener.
For a short slide show of the photographs of Snowflake Bentley, click the captured snowflake!