Yesterday, Google ran an interesting, animated doodle for its logo, celebrating the 125th anniversary of the world record for largest observed snowflake. As I asked, in my article about it, where does Google come up with this stuff?
A lot of others were wondering the same thing. For example, here are a couple of the comments we got:
"So how exactly did u get the recording of its size without making it melt?"
"Someone could have bulls**tted the whole story with a made up sketch, fake measurements and false claims. You dont know, i dont know, theres no telling if this even really happened...."
According to Wikipedia, which Google presented as the top organic result when clicking on the doodle, in the snowflake was observed in 1887 at 38 centimeters (15 in) in diameter in Fort Keogh, Montana.
The Wikipedia entry cites: Lyons, Walter A (1997). The Handy Weather Answer Book (2nd ed.). Detroit, Michigan: Visible Ink press. ISBN 0-7876-1034-8.
I dug up a New York Times article from 2007, which references the same snowflake, noting that it's listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, and that the snowflake was measured by a nearby rancher, who described the flakes falling in the storm which produced the flake in question, as "larger than milk pans". It also says that there was no corroborating evidence to support the rancher's claim.
I'm having a hard time finding anything about the record on Guinness' site, but here are some other interesting snow-related records.
Here's an interesting excerpt from that NYT article:
“Who of us has seen a hailstone the size of a golf ball or a baseball?” asked Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a snowflake devotee at the California Institute of Technology who runs the physics department there in his spare time. “But, clearly, they exist, because people pull them out of their freezers. Some of these things can be very, very rare, but not impossible.”
So too with giant snowflakes, Dr. Libbrecht said. “As big as a basketball?” he asked. “Who knows? It’s not out of the question.”
The laws of physics, he said, suggest no obvious restrictions on the size of very large flakes. But in the real world, Dr. Libbrecht added, wind might break up the fragile compilations, putting an effective size limit on what flutters down from the sky.
tagSEOBlog uploaded the following video demonstrating the animation (hat tip to Barry Schwartz):