As we anxiously wait for the winter snow, it's important to remember the building block of a blizzard -- the humble snowflake -- is not necessarily a unique individual.
Scientists now believe that of the million billion cubic feet of snow that annually falls on the planet, some might well be identical, dispelling the old rumor that no two snowflakes are exactly alike.
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Japan-based cloud physicist Jon Nelson, via MSNBC:
How likely is it that two snowflakes are alike? Very likely if we define alike to mean that we would have trouble distinguishing them under a microscope and if we include the crystals that hardly develop beyond the prism stage--that is, the smallest snow crystals.
Nelson says the number of annual snowflakes is "one followed by 24 zeros," so finding two identical flakes would still prove quite the difficult task. Here's a link to more on the science behind snow.
Eric Peterson, a contributor for On the Edge, is a travel writer/skier/Colorado native/semi-pro rock and roller. Check out his website here.