National Geographic : 1970 Jan
up the Lord's challenge (Job 38:22): "Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?" Back inside the house, and warmed by a crackling fire, I started digging into my books to find out. Aristotle, in the fourth century B.C., was perhaps the first to observe that "when cloud freezes there is snow...." But another two thousand years were to pass before man's study of snow would take the next significant step. By the 17th century the development of the microscope enabled men to see in detail the fascinating precision of snow crystals. In his book, Micrographia, published in 1665, Robert Hooke of England presented drawings of the gossamer forms. Toward the end of the 19th century, the camera gave new stimulus to snowflake 106 fanciers; in 1885, Mr. Wilson A. (Snowflake) Bentley of Jericho, Vermont, pioneered snow crystal photography. For nearly fifty winters he worked alone on his hillside farm in a small shed. There, bundled against the pierc ing cold of northern blizzards and tempera tures that frequently fell below zero, he recorded with his clumsy studio camera a myriad and marvelous assortment of snow shapes.* More than two thousand of his re markable photomicrographs illustrate a refer ence work published in 1931, and still used by meteorologists the world over. After many hours of fighting fatigue and *NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC published "Snow Crystals," January 1904, and "The Magic Beauty of Snow and Dew," January 1923, both illustrated with extraordinary photographs by Wilson A. Bentley.