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January 25th 1924: First Winter Olympics

On this day in 1924, the first Winter Olympic Games began in Chamonix, France, and lasted until February 5th. At the time, the event was called ‘International Winter Sports Week’ but it was later retroactively named the Winter Olympics. The sports included speed skating, figure skating, ice hockey, bobsleigh, and skiing. Only 16 nations took part in the first Winter Olympics, but the event steadily gained more recognition. The most recent Winter Olympics, in Sochi in 2014, had 88 participating nations. 1924 also saw the Summer Olympic Games in Paris. However in 1994, the rules were changed so the Winter Olympics take place two years after the Summer Olympics. Hence last year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi occurred two years after London hosted the Summer Games.

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World’s First 3D Images of Snowflakes Falling

Curious History recently posted about the world’s first pictures of snowflakes ever taken in 1885 by William Bentley. We know have another first, the world’s first 3D images of snowflakes caught as they are falling.

Researchers at the University of Utah have teamed up with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to better understand just how fast and in what form snowflakes truly fall. To accomplish this, they used a high-speed Multi-Angle Snowflake Cam (aka “MASC”) to capture real-time 3D images of snowflakes in freefall at Utah’s Alta Ski Area.

The study is reportedly the first of its kind, and it’s already turning up some really interesting results.

Writes John Bohannon for Science NOW:

The classic image of a snowflake is a fluke. That flat, six-sided crystal with delicate filigree patterns of sharp branches occurs in only about one in every 1000 flakes. And a snowflake seen in 3D is another beast entirely. Researchers have developed a camera system that shoots untouched flakes “in the wild” as they fall from the sky. By grabbing a series of images of the tumbling crystals—its exposure time is one-40,000th of a second, compared with about one-200th in normal photography—the camera is revealing the true shape diversity of snowflakes.

Above is a tiny cross section of the variety of snowflakes MASC has photographed in free-fall so far. Check out tons more at the Snowflake Stereography and Fallspeed home page, or – when it’s snowing – at Alta Ski Area’s Snowflake Showcase, where you can watch a live feed of snowflakes falling in real time.

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