A team of international scientists based in Helsinki, Finland, have announced that they have created different colored snow, and not by adding food coloring. According to their press release, their method is entirely natural and does not involve dyes or colors.
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The actual science of how it works is exciting and in depth and full of long words and squiggly math symbols, so I will translate it and simplify it for you. Basically the color comes from the crystalline structure refracting the white light, breaking it into a spectrum of colors. By changing the densities of the flakes they act as a filter to remove certain frequencies of the spectrum thus giving the impression of colored snow.
The density of snow flakes can be controlled by creating them at varying temperatures. As the temperature drops, the density of the flakes increases and therefore the lower frequency colors (red end of the spectrum) are allowed to pass. As temperatures increase the density of the snowflakes decrease and the colors pass through the rainbow up to the purpley colors.
Why has nobody discovered this previously? The temperatures needed to create a dense enough flake to filter visible light are in the region of -130F to -240F, temperatures outside the usual realms of nature. Also, if anybody wanted colored snow then they would do it the easy way, by adding the food coloring combination they wanted.
|The old method of coloring your snow|
The next step for the Helsinki Snow Science Team is to get the functional temperatures to a point where the snow is not so cold that it burns the flesh off your body, or freezes your fingers to the point where they will shatter like glass. As things stand, the likelihood of a multicolored snowball fight this winter is very slim.
Once they get the extreme temperature issues solved then dreaming of a red, green or blue Christmas could be a reality, but even then I still would not trust the yellow snow.
What color snow would you like to see? Can you think of any advantages to having different colored snow? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.