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Why does a snowflake have six sides?

  1. Jan 24, 2016 #1
    Probably everyone has heard that a snowflake has six sides. I wonder why. It is reported that since the water molecule is polar, the molecules arrange themselves in a hexagonal ring. I wonder why 6 sides and not 4,5,7,8,9,... etc. Also.as a water molecule approaches a developing snowflake, how does it know where to attach itself. The molecule on one limb of the snowflake does not have any idea of the structure of the other side, does it?
     
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  3. Jan 24, 2016 #2

    phinds

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  4. Jan 24, 2016 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    As phinds mentioned, the snowflake symmetry mirrors the underlying ice crystal structure (hexagonal). An excellent site:

    http://snowcrystals.com/
     
  5. Jan 24, 2016 #4
    I did not know of these sites. Thanks to both of you.
     
  6. Jan 24, 2016 #5

    phinds

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    Google is your friend. I just cut/pasted your question into Google and found the answer for you. Took about 3 seconds.
     
  7. Jan 24, 2016 #6
    I went to Google and viewed some reply's. However what bugs me is when a snowflake is forming why does each leg appear symmetrical. A water molecule that is going to attach itself does not know the structure of the flake on the other side, or the other 5 legs. I can see why the original hexagonal ring forms but after that what controls the shape?
     
  8. Jan 24, 2016 #7

    davenn

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    that was answered in that page Andy posted

    go back to his link and read the section on Snowflake Science

    cheers
    Dave
     
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