Fact Check: This image from an artwork series does not show 'snow under the microscope'

·2 min read

The claim: Image shows what snow looks like under a microscope

What does snow look like up close? An image shared on Facebook claims to show just that.

"Snow under the microscope," reads a July 29 post.

The post accumulated nearly 2,000 interactions in its first week. One commenter wrote, "Absolutely beautiful!"

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The claim has circulated on other social media platforms with a similar caption, and has been shared in different languages as well. But the image actually shows part of a work of art and has nothing to do with snow crystals.

USA TODAY reached out to the user who made the post for comment.

Image shows paper sculpture

The photo is from an artwork titled “Magic Circle Variation 5” by artist Rogan Brown. It is part of a series that began as Brown collaborated with U.K. scientists who were working on the Human Microbiome Project, according to AFP.

"The artwork is mine. It’s a paper sculpture made from layers of laser-cut hand-mounted paper," Brown told USA TODAY in an email. "It does not depict snowflakes under a microscope, but (it) is an attempt to visualize a diverse bacterial colony."

The image is a representation of a microbiome, a broad colony of bacteria that lives in and on the human body. Nothing close to snow particles.

Brown, who published the artwork on his website, said his work attempts to "find accessible visual metaphors for phenomena such as bacteria that are extremely difficult to understand because of their tiny scale and vast number."

He said the purpose is "to create a positive idea of bacteria by associating them with something beautiful."

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Our rating: False

The claim that an image shows what snow looks like under a microscope is FALSE, based on our research. The photo shows a paper sculpture that formed part of a series of pieces by Brown.

Our fact-check sources:

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact Check: Image shows paper artwork, not snow under a microscope

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