gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Capturing snowflakes (Part 1)

January 20, 2012 @ 00:47 By: gordon Category: General, Weather

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…

First, all of my stuff laid out on the snow-covered picnic table. IMG_4612
Next, how I caught my snowflakes. The black square is a clay scratch plate I bought to make it easy to pick the snowflakes out. IMG_4614
Finally, a close-up of the black plate and a couple of the slides. IMG_4615

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.

2 Responses to “Capturing snowflakes (Part 1)”

  1. Is there a part 2 coming soon? I’m interested to see the results.

    • gordon says:

      I’ve gotten a little behind in my blogging, but yes, there will be a part 2 shortly. Maybe even this evening. 🙂


  1. gordon.dewis.ca | Capturing snowflakes (Part 2) (February 11, 2012 @ 02:09)
  2. gordon.dewis.ca | Snow on the way in to work this morning (February 15, 2012 @ 09:52)

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