Crystals arise when a pure compound passes gradually from liquid to solid form. The elegant regularity of a crystal is attributable to the way its molecules have configured and fit together. The angles and distances between atoms are determined by the strong bonds of fundamental molecular structure, and then weaker bonds amongst the molecules determine in turn the most comfortable interrelationship as they gather, when cooling from a melted state or drying forth from solution.
In regimented accordance with all these affinities and angles, molecules work out the most stable arrangement and ultimately present a statement about themselves to us. If it weren't for this, we might still be wondering about the structural nature of the executive genetic material, for Watson and Crick had to make crystals of DNA and shine x-ray light through them to eureka the remarkable double helix.
Not to disillusion those who need to believe Jack Frost is a real person, but the fact of the matter -- and my point here -- is that frost's fractal feathery fronds and the special beauty of snowflakes come about in this way, too. H2O maintains an angle of 104.5 degrees, stout chemical bonds keeping the hydrogens and oxygen together in a molecule, while gentler attractions decide the way they array when they find themselves at a low temperature. The most stable state entails compromise, as there is considerable repulsion between like-charged ends as well as attraction between the oppositely charged points, accounting for the expansion we see when water freezes, as well as a tendency to form a ring of six V-shapes that may ultimately express itself in a swirl of tiny sprites we can view with a magnifier and be impressed---or spread out this way and that across a pane to result in those crystal coastlines, cascades and crochet for perusal by sleepy eyes at sunrise.
And I will say it's quite apparent that the origin of life on Earth (and all those other worlds) traces back just as surely to the intricacy of purpose that atoms and molecules are able, nay eager, to share. If you catch someone trying to propagate the lie that order does not increase on its own in a universe such as ours, try not to smirk but rather smile. Arrogance is *their* province, not ours.
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