Kepler's Snowflakes

Kepler's Latin monograph of 1611, A New Years Gift, or On the six-cornered snowflake, is the first known work on morphogenesis.

This edition, the first in English, begins with a four-page synopsis of Kepler's 24-page booklet. Kepler's introduction recounts that on crossing the Karlsbrucke bridge over the Vltava river (built 1352) on the evening of the New Year of 1611, he noticed a snowflake on the lapel of his coat, and decided to give it (or rather, his speculations on it) to his patron, Counsellor Wackher, as a gift.

He concludes that the hexagonal pattern is derived from a facultas formatrix, or morphogenetic field, which is also responsible for the shape of plants.

Rev'd 12 dec 2002 by ralph abraham