Going from Microsoft’s top floor to cookbook stardom, Nathan Myhrvold just took the highest resolution snow crystal photos.
The images, which captured the ever-unique molecular structure in astonishing color and depth, required all kinds of specialized equipment assembled in a confined space as part of a garage project.
Most snowflakes are less than half an inch wide and will dissolve fairly quickly if they don’t come in contact with equally frozen material. The merger problem would be one of the biggest challenges for Myhrvold and it ended up requiring all kinds of interesting technology.
As a man with a Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics and physics from Princeton University, and a 14-year CTO at Microsoft, Myhrvold had no trouble solving the problem.
He went to work building a machine that was part microscope and part camera. He ended up standing on a five foot high table and weighing 50 pounds. A thermoelectric cooling system, carbon fiber frame, and cool LED lights ensured that there was no heat emanating onto the focused snowflake.
“The light could melt the snowflake, so I found a company in Japan that makes LED lights for industrial purposes,” Myhrvold said. Smithsonian. “My camera’s flash is a millionth of a second and a thousand times faster than a typical camera flash.”
There was also a challenge that involved capturing the physical snowflake, one that was solved by using, among all things, sapphire crystal, instead of glass because it doesn’t capture and radiate heat as much as glass does.
In December, Good News Network examined the mathematics and physics behind the formation of the iconic six-armed hexagonal snowflake“The kind Myhrvold photographed with his camera.”
University of Manitoba researcher and mathematician Ranganathan Padmanabhan explains to your university press why a snow crystal is always represented with six sides and six branches.
“Nature is the mother of all symmetries,” he begins. “In fact, symmetry turns out to be a central organizing principle in nature’s design,” pointing to the honeycomb before explaining that at the molecular level, a hexagon allows for the tightest packing of things in space, meaning that nature is a thrifty type.
As the snow crystal falls through the clouds and sky, it accumulates water, liquid, vapor and solid, which when exposed to different levels of humidity and temperature, begins to accumulate as it rotates downwards in a theoretical variation. endless of trajectories and conditions, eventually forming the branches or arms of the snow crystal that essentially forbid identity between the fallen flakes.
While Myrhvold was capturing them at the end of their journey, the crystal formations are truly impressive, with the arms forming long spikes, fir-like shapes, and even small squares.
“Snowflakes are a great example of hidden beauty”, write on your website. “Water, which is incredibly familiar to all of us, is quite unknown when you look at it from this different perspective.”
Who knows how many snowflakes he had to subject to this photograph before finding the copies that ended up for sale on his website, but as he explained to Smithsonian, photos are more than meets the eye.
“That photo [is usually the result of] 100 photographs collected using computer software, ”he said.
Each photograph is taken with a slight exposure shift of a single micron per photo, a measurement generally reserved for things like strands of human hair.
“You have to take a lot of photos to get a high enough resolution, because many photos together allow you to have enough depth of field to see a whole snowflake very clearly.”
For the snowflake enthusiast, these artworks are available for $ 850 on the Myhrvold gallery website, where he also sells his famous images of modern kitchen art.
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