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Snowflakes on Swedish Stamps

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Capturing - or creating - the most ethereal snowflakes is a passion of Caltech physicist, Ken Libbrecht, one of the world's top experts on snowflakes and ice crystal formations. Libbrecht is also passionate about photographing snowflakes, (utilizing a custom-built photo-microscope).

And now the Swedish Postal Service has issued a set of winter stamps featuring images of snowflakes taken by Libbrecht. This year's stamps for international holiday greetings depict snow crystals photographed by Libbrecht in Kiruna in northern Lapland. This is where you will find the world-famous Icehotel, a hotel that is re-invented every year once winter arrives.

Libbrecht says, "To capture the characteristics of each crystal, I have developed a special microscope that allows me to add backlighting. The snow crystal functions as a complex lens that reflects light, resulting in beautiful coloring effects."

Recently Libbrecht was awarded the Lennart Nilsson Award, recognizing extraordinary image-makers in science. Libbrecht has taken photographs of both natural and synthetic snowflakes, revealing stunning, unusual designs. He has published several calendars and books on snowflakes describing the art and science of snowflakes.

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