[FOUNTAIN]Nature’s way of silencing society’s noiseWhat makes it snow?
The first person to solve nature’s puzzle was Ukichiro Nakatani, an internationally famous Japanese scientist. He hung a strand of rabbit’s fur in a temperature-controlled laboratory that could be cooled to minus 30 degrees centigrade. Under the fur, he placed a water jar and applied heat to produce steam. The vapor froze on the fur and formed different types of ice crystals.
Mr. Nakatani successfully completed the experiment in 1936, a great leap in the study of ice and snow. His success led to the production of artificial snow used at ski slopes today.
Snow is crystallized ice coming from clouds when the temperature drops below zero. Snow crystals take various forms, ranging from flat to hexagonal to a shape resembling tree branches. One can explore the mysterious shapes of snow crystals through a magnifying glass or microscope. In the mid-20th century, Wilson Bentley, an American farmer and snow crystal photomicrographer, was fascinated by the beauty of snow and captured over 6,000 images.
When the temperature is around minus 1 to 5 degrees centigrade, a relatively mild cold day, small snow crystals will stick to one another to create bigger snowflakes, which are easy to form into a ball. But on a severely cold day, the snow is more powdery and lacks adhesion. There is a saying in Korea that powdery snow brings a cold winter.
Our ancestors wished for a heavy snowfall in winter. They knew that large snowflakes that covered the ground in a silvery veil were especially good for both people and farming. The unique climate of the peninsula regularly brings drought in spring, and the snow in the fields and mountains will slowly melt and release water to the soil. Heavy snowfall was also viewed as reducing insect damage.
When heavy snow falls, the streets are strangely quiet. Noise loses its energy when it enters the tiny spaces within snowflakes, and the natural soundproofing system piles up around buildings or along the streets. Snow is known to absorb noise in the frequency that is best heard by human ears. A heavy snowfall with large snowflakes came to Seoul and the Gyeonggi region. It might be the nature’s thoughtful gesture to reduce the noise coming from parts of society.
by Lee Kyu-youn
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.