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Snowflakes fall in similar ways

Mariia Tagirova/Shutterstock

Individual snowflakes have unique, intricate patterns, but the complicated way in which they fall appears to be universal.

Normally, when an object falls to the ground it picks up speed until the forces of gravity and air resistance balance out. At this point, the object stops accelerating, reaching its terminal velocity. However, light and delicately shaped snowflakes get caught in turbulent air flows on their way down, which turns their descent into a more complicated sequence of floating and twirling. This makes the path they…

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