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The Weather Doctor's Book Reviews
The Art of the Snowflake: A Photographic Album by Kenneth Libbrecht is Libbrecht's latest foray into the world of the snowflake. I have been a lover of the snowflake ever since finding Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley's pioneering book Snow Crystals during my university days at Michigan. It has been a part of my library for these past 40 years, and I still enjoy thumbing through it. But a century or so has passed since Bentley did his landmark work, and technology has changed by orders of magnitude. Bentley's torch has now been passed to Kenneth Libbrecht, professor of physics at Caltech, whose innovations in the art and science of snow crystals are evident in his series of books on snowflakes.
I reviewed Libbrecht's first book The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty on its release in 2003. I have also reviewed his The Little Book of Snowflakes and The Magic of Snowflakes: A Postcard Book. In his first book and the present volume, the author captures the sense of the beauty and science weather that I founded The Weather Doctor site on.
I am actually lucky to have been able to review this book as the copy I received from the publisher was almost stolen. Okay, not as a criminal activity, but because one of my art group associates did not want to relinquish the book after it circulated around the members. She already was holding my copy of The Snowflake for ransom, and was even more taken by this volume. Her specialty in art is elaborate geometric design, and her comment on the intricacy of the snowflakes was that it was time to quit art as she was no match for nature. Several other members wanted to spend time with the book and some took down the details to order copies.
While the text is not the main feature of this book, what there is deserves attention as well. In the opening pages, Libbrecht describes his apparatus and technique for photographing these transient wonders. In the second chapter, he gives a clear and concise explanation of the formation of natural snowflakes. And interspersed through the book, the author drops wonderful quotes on the beauty and wonder of snowflakes.
This Wow! book straddles the worlds of art and science and should be on the shelves of everyone even remotely interested in the beauty of nature and of weather. My biggest dilemma is whether I will shelve The Art of the Snowflake with my art books or with my weather books. Actually, my biggest dilemma is whether I will allow it out of the house as I am certain my art friends will want to spend time with it, and some may have thoughts of a permanent loan!
With the holiday season fast approaching, I wholeheartedly recommend The Art of the Snowflake as a great gift that fits the season but lasts all year. A real treat would be to combine The Art of the Snowflake with The Snowflake to give the recipient the best of both the art and the science of the snowflake.
The Art of the Snowflake: A Photographic Album
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