HOWTO grow your own snowflakes

 Data Galleries Dn16170-Snowflakes Hollow-Columns

 Data Galleries Dn16170-Snowflakes Triangular1

Caltech physicist Ken Libbrecht wrote the book on snowflakes. Actually, several of them. The author of the Field Guide to Snwoflakes and The Secret Life of a Snowflake posted a HOWTO guide for growing your own snow crystals. (No, they probably won't look like the "hollow column snowflake" or "triangular crystal snowflake" above that Libbrecht photographed with a custom snowflake photomicroscope. For more of those incredible natural flakes, see this gallery at New Scientist.) From Libbrecht's Web site:

 Product Image 88735184 Field-Guide-To-Snowflakes

The parts list for this experiment is as follows:

>One used 20-oz plastic Coke bottle

>Three large-diameter styrofoam cups (or something similar; see below)

>A small kitchen sponge (1/2 inch thick)

>A short length of nylon fishing line (thinner is better; 1-pound test is good)

>A strong sewing needle

>Four straight pins

>One paper clip

>Some paper towels

"Grow Your Own Snowflakes" (via Science Friday)