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Q & A: snowflake formation and music

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Most recent answer: 01/08/2016
Q:
How does the frequency and pitch of music affect the way a water freezes and forms?
- Meri (age 17)
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A:

Your question reminds me of the book by Masaru Emoto, who claimed to have observed beautiful snowflake formation with classical music and ugly one with rock-n-roll music, although I don't know whether your question was actually inspired by this book. 

I assume that "the way water freezes and forms" means how snowflake is shaped. I would say that music does not affect snowflake shape. There are three processes governing the shape of snow crystal: faceting, branching, and sharpening. As you would already know, snowflake is flat, has six branches, and is thin. The three processes are related to these respective aspects of snowflake. You may find the below website interesting if you are interested in more details about each process and snowflake crystal formation in general.

http://www.snowcrystals.com/science/science.html

Each process governing the shape of snow crystal is local. What I mean by saying "local" is that the process is affected only by neighboring water molecules and there is no long-distance influence. What matters are which spot of the crystal the free water molecules stick well and which spot grows faster. And they are related to the available bonding between water molecules (which is local!). So the frequency and pitch of music cannot play a role in the snowflake formation. 

I hope this helps!

SHC

P.S. Just in case you asked this question after reading the book by Emoto, his result is not being accepted in the scientific community. His experiments are not controlled properly, which increases errors. Also, he did not provide enough details of his work, so it is highly probable that he deliberately chose snowflakes that would support his claim and reported only those selected ones in his book.


(published on 01/08/2016)

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