I am not usually one to wax on about science. Don’t get me wrong. I love science and I think it’s perfectly marvelous. People who do science (wait, that’s everyone!) are amazing and clever and inspiring. But usually, I don’t consider myself a science geek …
Except sometimes, when science and beauty intersect. There! Right there is where my interest is captured fully and profoundly.
Enter my latest scientific fascination: W.A. (Wilson Alwyn) Bentley. Mr. Bentley was 17 years old in 1885 when he first paired his love of snowflakes with this newfangled gizmo called the photographic camera. He created on his Vermont family farm the very first photo-micrograph of a snow crystal and thus launched his career. In 1931, the year he died, he published Snow Crystals, in which he published 2,500 of his some 5,000 photographs of snow crystals.
I checked out Bentley’s book (Dover, 1962) from my local library.
And it is AWESOME.
That’s it. Page after page after page of white snow crystals on a black background. Perfect and fragile and exquisite. Fascinating and mind-blowing. Two hundred and one such pages, depicting unique crystals, including snowflakes, ice flowers, windowpane frost, rime, glaze, and graupel. There are only eight pages of text in this miracle of a book.
My dear Mr. Bentley, I think I love you.