Macro photography of natural snowflake. This is relatively big crystal, 4 or 5 millimeters in diameter. Glass background with backlight, additional lens Helios 44M-5, december 2014, Moscow. 11 RAWs averaged.
Macro photography of natural snowflake. This is relatively big crystal, 4 or 5 millimeters in diameter. Glass background with backlight, additional lens Helios 44M-5, december 2014, Moscow. 11 RAWs averaged.

The Snow Show: Making Snowflakes with Peter Veals and Twila Moon

Alexey Kljatov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

How do you make snow? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly learn some cold, hard facts about snow and ice with atmospheric scientist and snow maker Peter Veals, PhD and glacial scientist Twila Moon, PhD. 

How does snow even form? We learn about how the fluffy stuff falls from the sky and the many types of snow. Learn about deposition, sublimation, and the different freezing points of water– ever wondered why distilled water won’t become solid at freezing temperatures? We answer the age old question: is every snowflake really unique? 

We learn about how we humans make snow for ski slopes and events like the Olympics. Will we have to produce snow for future Olympics? How does refrigeration work? Can you produce snow and leave a carbon neutral footprint? What type of snow is best for skiing? We break down industrial snowmaking and Peter’s startup, Quantum Snow, where they grow their own snow crystals. Explore the snow situation for the Beijing Olympics. Will there be enough?

Next, we speak with Twila about glaciers and other icy environments in the cryosphere. What is a glacier? How have snowfall patterns changed? How fast do glaciers move? How is the cryosphere and our ~thermohaline circulation~ affected by climate change? Should we geoengineer solutions to our snow and ice problems? All that, plus, is it possible that Chuck can come up with more snow jokes?

Thanks to our Patrons Takeyla Tyson, Brad Respondek, Jacob D. Fisher, Thyash Maney, Kem Phillips, Chris Pisst, and J Maji for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

 

In This Episode

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