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Andry Brunning via Compound Interest // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

There are 39 Kinds of Snowflakes

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Andry Brunning via Compound Interest // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Every special little snowflake may be unique, but they’re not all that different from each other, at least at the molecular level.  Depending on the temperature and humidity at which they form, snow crystals form into different shapes. Scientists have categorized the crystal structures of snowflakes into 39 different categories, including columns, irregular particles, and more, all of which are visualized in the graphic above by chemistry teacher and science infographic wiz Andry Brunning of Compound Interest.

As scientists find out more about crystal structures, the types of known snowflakes out there have increased. There were only 21 categories of crystal shapes in the 1930s, but in recent years, that number has ballooned up to 121 subtypes—you’ll have to look at the expanded version of the graphic to see those (along the bottom of the image). But those are pretty fine-grained definitions. There are 39 intermediate classifications of basic snowflake shapes, including several irregularly shaped forms of solid precipitation. 

You may not be able to tell a column crystal from a rimed crystal with the naked eye, but you can definitely throw out a few of these categorizations to impress people while you’re snowed in this weekend.

[h/t: Smithsonian]

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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What's the Saltiest Water in the World?
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iStock // lucamato

Saltwater is common around the world—indeed, salty oceans cover more than two-thirds of the globe. Typical saltwater found in our oceans is about 3.5% salt by weight. But in some areas, we find naturally occurring saltwater that's far saltier. The saltiest water yet discovered is more than 12 times saltier than typical seawater.

Gaet’ale is a pond in Ethiopia which currently holds the record as the most saline water body on Earth. The water in that pond is 43.3% dissolved solids by weight—most of that being salt. This kind of water is called hypersaline for its extreme salt concentration.

In the video below, Professor Martyn Poliakoff explains this natural phenomenon—why it's so salty, how the temperature of the pond affects its salinity, and even why this particular saltwater has a yellow tint. Enjoy:

For the paper Poliakoff describes, check out this abstract.

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