Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Title

Notices of the American Mathematical Society








(First paragraph) Growing up as a child in southern England, my early memories of snow include trudging home from school with my father, gazing at the seemingly enormous snowdrifts that smoothed the hedgerows, fields and bushes, while listening to the soft “scrunch” of the snow under my Wellington boots. In the country, snow stretching as far as I could see was not a particularly uncommon sight. The quietness of the land under a foot of snow seemed eerie. I cannot remember the first time I looked at snowflakes per se; my interests as a small child were primarily in their spheroidally shaped aggregates as they flew through the air. Many years later, as I cycled home from my office in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, I remember being intrigued by a colored blotch of light to the west of the Sun at about the same elevation. Little did I know then that these two events of snowfall and “sundogs” (of which more anon) were intimately connected. Since that time I have learned rather more about meteorological optics, and this book about the beauty of snowflakes has challenged me to learn more of the physics and mathematics behind crystal formation in general and ice crystal formation in particular.


First published in Notices of the American Mathematical Society in Volume 52, Issue 4, published by the American Mathematical Society.

Included with the kind permission of the publisher.

Original Publication Citation

Adam, J. A. (2005). Flowers of ice- Beauty, symmetry, and complexity: A review of The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty. Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 52(4), 402-416.


0000-0001-5537-2889 (Adam)