One of the more technically creative time lapses we've seen in a long while, Snowtime is a 2-minute "microscopic time-lapse" by Vyacheslav Ivanov that captures the mesmerizing bloom of budding ice crystals in all their hexagonal glory.

The ice crystal(s) in snowflakes owe their six-fold rotational symmetry to the hydrogen bonds in water molecules. As water freezes, water molecules bound to other water molecules crystallize into a hexagonal structure, where each point on the hexagon is an oxygen atom and each side of the hexagon is a hydrogen bonded to an oxygen. As freezing continues, more water molecules are added to this microscopic six-sided structure, causing it to grow in size into the six-sided macroscopic structure that we recognize as snow flakes.

Water's tendency to expand as it nears freezing – rather than condense, like most substances – is part of what lends its frozen crystal structure its unique shape. (It's also responsible for a number of water's unique properties, and why it's so essential to the existence of life.) Something to keep in mind the next time you're experimenting with good old H2O.


Complement with some stunning close-up photographs of snowflakes, here and here.


[Vyacheslav Ivanov via Kuriositas]