January is a fresh start. This is the month to dream, to look forward to the year ahead and the journey within. A new chapter in life waiting to be writing, new questions to be asked embraced and loved. Become open to the changes that the answers will inevitably bring. There are challenging times in which to live. But, we are not the only generation to have difficult days.Each year, as Bing Crosby sang, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas and it’s happened for me. My Christmas Holiday Season was white :).
Away from Scotland, I was digging through some of the fascinating chemistry behind the white stuff! I know that winter holiday in the snow is always the season challenging, I am enjoying my winter vacation. Even though it is cold, there are lots of fun. Things I wish I’d known when I was younger.Snow is of course formed in clouds where the temperature is less that zero Celsus degree this means that the water vapour present will start to crystallise and form a snowflake. Snow crystals are structures with a very high level of order and we can see this when we look at a snowflake in a lot of detail. Whilst they are not always absolutely symmetrical, snowflakes do follow similar patterns.This is because a snowflake’s shape reflects the internal order of the water molecules. Water molecules in the solid state, such as in ice and snow, form weak bonds (called hydrogen bonds) with one another. These ordered arrangements result in the symmetrical, hexagonal shape of the snowflake. As we know water and ice often appear clear and colourless but snow appears to be white, this is because snowflakes have so many surfaces, owing to its crystal structure, that reflects light and scatters most of the rays that hit it.But the winter holiday in the snow is always the season challenging, many winter sports rely on having well-carpeted slopes throughout the season, and sometimes a helping hand is needed in the form of artificial snow. Like so many scientific innovations, the first artificial snow was created by lucky accident. In the 1940s, a group of Canadian scientists were trying to study the effects of rime ice (the white ‘frost’ that forms on surfaces) on jet engines. In an attempt to re-create real outdoor conditions they were throwing water in front of a running engine in a low-temperature wind tunnel. Instead of ice forming on the engine, they got mid-air snow, as the water cooled and froze into the characteristic hexagonal crystals that grow into snowflakes. At that time their ‘invention’ was more of an annoyance than anything else, as the snow quickly collected on the ground and had to be shovelled out of the tunnel. They published their findings but didn’t try to commercialise them.
The first patented snowmaking machine came later, during a slump in sales at a US ski manufacturing company in the early 1950s. Engineers at the Connecticut-based Tey Manufacturing Company came up with the idea of blowing water droplets through freezing air. Their first crude device was cobbled together using a paint spray compressor, a nozzle and a garden hose.Over the following years, snow cannons based on the same principle have caught on at ski resorts and indoor snow domes – today’s versions incorporate heavy-duty air compressors and water pumps, as snowmaking requires huge amounts of water (it takes about a tonne of water to make a 10cm-deep layer of snow over a 20m2 area). Away from the slopes, you may want to create the appearance of snow without any of the cold. In this case, a fairly decent decorative mimic can be crafted from white, fluffy-looking hydrated superabsorbent polymers.This kind of ‘snow’ is often used on film sets, as frozen water would quickly melt under hot studio lights. It may also pop up in festive – but cosy – Santa’s grottos, and you can even buy it in packets for home decoration.In the long history in which humans have been getting caught in snowstorms, the way we have reacted to snow and interpreted it. For the Impressionists and the Japanese ukiyo-e artists, it was a force for beauty and contemplation. For the inhabitants of the Alps in the middle ages and after, it was associated with evil and witchcraft. Each society has interpreted the unusual and often spectacular event of a snowfall in a different way. Snow, that falls on a full moon is purified water and protective properties. Now, scientists seem to discover that snow is efficient at removing aerosol particles from the air. Perhaps the best way to track the cultural significance of snow is through art. Until the 16th century, artists showed little interest except where it had a religious context. Then came the shocking winter of 1564-5, the longest and most severe for more than a hundred years, and the first great winter of the intensely cold period in northern Europe that we now call the Little Ice Age.It was early in this exceptional winter of 1565 that Pieter Bruegel the Elder created what is regarded as the first winter landscape painting, The Hunters in the Snow. What did he see in this, the earliest detailed account of people’s reaction to snow? Like a snapshot, Bruegel captures the bustle of a Brabant village during his time. Each character is depicted in action. Children play with spinning tops or slide on the frozen water, while a couple advances cautiously on the ice.Further afield, carts are being loaded with sacks of grain and people warm themselves by the fire. Here, chickens peck and birds soar while the donkey obediently follows his master.Once Bruegel had found snow as a subject, he couldn’t stop 🙂Among a number of paintings of ice and snow that survive, he created the first scene with falling snow and the first nativity scene to include snow, The Adoration of the Magi.He also started a vogue for Netherlandish snow painting that endured for a century and a half.
January, the month of the new beginning the month. This is a month of dream
When snow comes it’s a winter’s day. Can you make a pot of some soup for supper?
Can you make a pot of some soup for supper?
I relish this joyful simplicity, during my holiday. Chopping colours of vegetable enjoy life and new beginning. We must learn the new value of life and become a specialist in living. Are you ready to become a pioneer? Then it’s time to invest your soul with all the creative energy at your disposal.
…. with snow is so much fun!
Happy Rooster Year!