Regular viewers of The Big Bang Theory will recall the episode in which Leonard gave Penny a snowflake from the North Pole that he had preserved on a piece of glass using cyanoacrylate glue (CA), aka Krazy Glue. Figuring that it was likely possible, like most of the science and geeky things on the show, I turned to Google to find out how it’s done.
It turns out that it’s fairly straight forward, at least in theory.
Basically, you catch a snowflake on a microscope slide, put some CA on it, put a slide cover on it (a very thin piece of glass), pop it in the freezer for a few days while the glue sets and voila, one preserved snowflake.
In practice, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Though you may find this hard to believe, I didn’t have any microscope slides and covers lying around. Fortunately, eBay came to my rescue and I was able to order some from China for a couple of bucks.
Finding Krazy Glue involved a trip to the hardware store after work one day.
I put everything in the freezer so that the snowflakes wouldn’t melt on contact and waited for the snow.
As luck would have it, we had some snow this evening, so I packed everything into an insulated bag with a coolpack in it and headed off in search of snowflakes, which sounds easier than it is, even given that I live in the Land of Ice And Snow, aka Canada.
There are many different types of snowflakes. Depending on the conditions, snowflakes can be spindly, pellet-like or multi-branched like the traditional snowflake shape. Or they can be messy little indistinct things like many of the ones that I encountered.
But, I set myself up at a snow and ice covered picnic table and started hunting for “pretty” snowflakes in the ones that were falling. And I found a couple so I positioned them on a slide using a small brush, dripped some Krazy Glue on them and dropped a slide cover on them.
The way it works is that the Krazy Glue bonds with the water molecules very easily without damaging the structure of the snowflakes. But it takes a while to set, so I’m going to leave them in the freezer for a few days while the glue does its thing.
Here’s a few pictures from my outing…
When I post Part 2, I’ll talk about some of the challenges of catching snowflakes. And maybe by then I’ll have the results from my first attempt.