Author(s): Johannes Kepler
In 1611, the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote The Six-Cornered Snowflake, which was the first scientific reference to snow crystals. Kepler wondered why snow crystals always exhibit a six-fold symmetry. It would be three hundred years before his question could finally be answered, but in the process of failing to solve its mystery, The Six-Cornered Snowflakeraises a remarkable number of deeply significant questions in physics, mathematics, and biology. This small work is the first recorded step toward a mathematical theory of the genesis of inorganic or organic forms. Beneath its humor and allusive style, it displays a scientific judgment of the highest caliber. In musing on the hexagonal structure of snowflakes, Kepler in effect challenged those who followed him to discover the mathematics of the emergence of visible forms in crystals, plants, and animals.
Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1631) was an important figure in the seventeenth century astronomical revolution. He is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion. Kepler wrote: "If there is anything that can bind the heavenly mind of man to this dusty exile of our earthly home...then it is verily the enjoyment of the mathematical sciences and astronomy." Jacques Bromberg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Classics at the University of Pennsylvania. Guillermo Bleichmar earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Havard University in 2007.