Peugeot’s breakthrough in Crystallogrpahy

snowflake symbolOne of the first scientific facts you learn as a child is that snowflakes, those lovely art creations of nature, have a six-fold symmetry. And they do; the properties of water molecules see to that. Hence the standard symbol for snow (and freezing, and cold in general).

One of the much later facts you learn as a scientist is that crystals almost never have five-fold symmetry. The rare few that do are called quasi-crystals; my countryman Dan Shechtman got a Nobel prize for discovering those.

So imagine my surprise, on traveling in a Peugeot 308 recently, when I looked at the gear shift and saw a button marked with this amazing symbol:

Peugeot 308 Snowflake button

The button apparently activates a special program for driving on snow, a wonderful feature (though not, really, in hot Israel); but what on earth were these French designers thinking with this five-pointed abomination?

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