Tuesday, January 23, 2007

i know i said i wasn't posting today, but someone has to step up and speak the truth to power on this

How many snowflakes do you think have fallen in the history of humankind? A trillion trillion seems to me an extremely conservative estimate. A trillion trillon snowflakes means half a trillion trillion trillion trillion pairs of snowflakes. If you think the number of snowflakes is more like a trillion trillion trillion, then we are talking half a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion snowflake-pairs.

Why are you so sure no two snowflakes are exactly alike?

13 comments:

a very public sociologist said...

More importantly, what is there more of. Trees or people?

Anonymous said...

I remember being very annoyed with Mrs. Steffanelli in 4th grade when she wouldn't acquiese this point. This is totally my Alaska-is-bigger-than-Texas thing.
-TOK

Anonymous said...

Are you the kid who raises his hand to share an "n of one" story that ends up defeating the purpose of the lecture?

Lucy said...

More like a trillion trillion per year, apparently, many of which would look alike. It's only the complex, pretty ones that are probably all different.

Anonymous said...

I'd never seen the complex,pretty ones in person before today.

They looked like normal snow as they fell (maybe even more insignificant than normal snow), but when you took a minute to study them after the landed somewhere you saw how amazing they were.

Anonymous said...

Well, how many water molecules are in the average snowflake? And how exact is exactly alike? Oh, Lucy's link examines both of those questions. Procrastination time is over, again?

Anonymous said...

How's that asking for grant money paper coming anyway?

and how did you start ruminating on this one? It's like the time you were questioning the probabilities of an expectant mother having boys or girls. lol

Anonymous said...

This is how my ten-year old son recently asserted his opinion on the matter (rough quote): "Those who say that no two snowflakes can be alike do not fully appreciate the concept of infinity, which requires that eventually an infinite number of snowflakes are exactly alike." What are they teaching kids in school these days?

jeremy said...

That rumination on the probabilities of parents having a boy or girl is part of a paper of mine that's now in press. The snowflake thing does not have an applied end, although I'm glad for Lucy pointing to a link on the science of the matter.

jeremy said...

Dan: Who told your son there was an infinite number of snowflakes to be had, even in the entirety of history and the universe? I say the number of snowflakes that will ever be anywhere is an inexpressibly infinitesimal fraction of infinity.

I wish there was an infinity key on the keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, what are they teaching kids these days? It all started with monkeys and typewriters, the next thing you know, its monkeys on other planets in other universes, then it's multiple universes, time streams, and snow flakes. Stick to creationism kid.

Anonymous said...

∞ ?

An "8" is sort of an infinity smiley, right?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I suppose "emoticon" is the proper term. ∞ apologies. 8-)