Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Dirty cars get the most beautiful frost feathers

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Words by Angela Brennan, photos by Paul Williams

A film maker has captured beautiful shots of frost feathers on a car window - which probably formed thanks to DIRT. Paul Williams, 34, took the image on a parked car on a frosty morning in his hometown of Bristol. Scientists believe crystal feathers tend to form more easily on dirty windshields and are more likely to create bigger patterns.

Paul, a wildlife film maker with the BBC natural history unit, took the photos with his mobile phone while heading to work. He said: “Beautiful patterns in nature always grab my attention and as I walked down the street the car was glinting as if coated in jewels."

“I knew that I didn't have long, my train was due and the sun was starting to melt the intricate frost feathers. It may have been something peculiar to this car, as I didn’t spot any other with these feathers. It could be because the car was dirty, seems to help crystal patterns develop." So, it seems that people who keep their cars clean are less likely to get such beautiful patterns.

James Nevell, a science and engineering tutor at the University of West of England’s International College, said dirt tended to enable crystals to form more slowly - creating bigger, more elaborate patterns.

He said: “If a car is clean, it’s harder for crystals to form and when they do it tends to need to be colder. This means it’s a quicker process and patterns tend to be more uniform. But the patterns on this car are large and bold. I would expect it is because the windscreen was dirty, which gave the molecules something to latch onto. This gave more opportunity for seed crystals to form early in the night, when the temperature is milder, so growth could take place over a longer time. It seems there were just a few starting points, which slowly spread outwards as the temperature cooled, to form this beautiful pattern.”


  1. Wow!its nice to know about it and also to see.Its an amazing art.I like it so much.Nice work done on the blog.I think in wild its experience is in good length.I like its spirit.

  2. Sounds good!! I like the art and way of making a car attractive. I have to make my car attractive by implementing in such art on car window and other places. So thanks a lot dear boss.