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Christmas Special: Snowballs

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69688.  Sat May 13, 2006 5:27 am Reply with quote

Question: The throwing of what led to the Boston Massacre?

Forfeit: Tea

Answer: Snowballs

The Boston Massacre was an incident between British Soldiers and an American crowd which would eventually help spark the American War of Independence. The Bostonians resented the British military presence in their city and tensions had built, but the final straw was when a wig-maker’s apprentice (named Garrick) mistakenly accused a soldier of leaving without paying his bill. The argument grew until a sentry struck the boy with his musket, and soon a crowd built, the crowd turned into a mob, and the mob began throwing ice and snowballs at the British guards. After confusion ensued, the soldiers began to fire into the mob killing five and injuring another half dozen.

The Boston Massacre occurred three years before the Boston Tea Party, another incident which contributed to what would eventually become the American Revolution. The Tea Party was a relatively peaceful protest, not against taxes but rather against a tea monopoly given to the East India Company. While the famous image of men dressed as Mohawks dumping tea off boats is accurate, the only other damage caused was a single padlock broken by the protestors.

Icehotel, in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden is a hotel made entirely of snow and ice. It does not exist in the summer as it melts each May and is rebuilt each October. The Lithuanian word for snowman is Senis Besmegenis, literally “old man without a brain”. The old story that no two snowflakes are the same was disproved in the late 80s when Nancy Knight of the National Center for Atmospheric Research discovered two snow crystals which to all intents and purposes had the same shape.
longish link
and another

69691.  Sat May 13, 2006 7:25 am Reply with quote

I always get into hot water when I claim those two snowflakes are identical.

Frederick The Monk
69959.  Mon May 15, 2006 2:49 pm Reply with quote

They look identical to me.

Frederick The Monk
69960.  Mon May 15, 2006 2:50 pm Reply with quote

Getting into hot water is a good way to make the problem disappear however.

70073.  Tue May 16, 2006 9:07 am Reply with quote

From the bottom of that Straight Dope column:
The crystals in question admittedly aren't flakes in the usual sense but rather hollow hexagonal prisms. They are also not absolutely identical, but come on, if you insist on getting down to the molecular level, nothing's identical. They're close enough for me. Just shows you, not only is this column at the cutting edge of science, sometimes we have to wait for the cutting edge to catch up.

What a udeful phrase "...but come on..." is! :-D

70077.  Tue May 16, 2006 9:21 am Reply with quote

"Identical"? Presumably not, but, I mean ... come on!

142111.  Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:05 am Reply with quote

Here's more on the "two snowflakes alike" chestnut.

The old adage that "no two snowflakes are alike" might not hold true, at least for smaller crystals, new research suggests.


"How likely is it that two snowflakes are alike? Very likely if we define alike to mean that we would have trouble distinguishing them under a microscope and if we include the crystals that hardly develop beyond the prism stage—that is, the smallest snow crystals," [Jon] Nelson [at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan] said.

"Good luck finding them though," he added. "Even if there were only a million crystals and you could compare each possible pair once per second—that is, very fast—then to compare them all would take you about a hundred thousand years."


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