Why have no two complex snowflakes observed... | Almanac.com

Why have no two complex snowflakes observed...

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Why have no two complex snowflakes observed thus far in nature ever been exactly alike?
Modern physics has made great progress toward explaining the genesis of the snowflake’s form. Its hexagonal symmetry has its origin in the shape of a water molecule, which consists of an atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen. They are connected in such a way that the hydrogen β€œarms” make an angle like the arms on the letter x. This angle ensures that when the water molecules link to form a crystal, the resultant symmetry will be hexagonal. Regarding the probabilities of combination, a single snow crystal consists of something like one quintillion molecules of water. The number of ways that many molecules can be arranged into six-sided crystals is astronomical. So the odds are huge that no two snowflakes in nature have ever been exactly alike.

Given that, however, simpler forms of snowflakes, such as needles, can look alike unless you consider the molecular level and the actual particle that each formed around. In controlled lab conditions, some snowflakes that were almost identical visually (but not on the molecular level) have been grown.