Imagine waking up after a night of heavy snowfall — you look out the window and see a world of white. But if you turn on a faucet or open the freezer, you’ll notice that liquid water and ice usually appear clear. So, why is snow white?
When it comes to understanding how H2O, an inherently clear substance, can transform into something white, Kenneth Libbrecht, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, and author of snowcrystals.com, a site about the physics of snowflakes, used the following analogy. “If you take a piece of glass, like a windowpane, which is obviously clear, but then you get a hammer out and you smash the pane into little bits of glass … now it’s white.”