02/24/2014 04:23 pm ET | Updated Feb 24, 2014

Watch A Snowflake Come To Life In This Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Video

Ever seen a snowflake up close? It's absolutely stunning.

But how did it get that way? A new time-lapse video provides the surprisingly complex answer to that question. Posted by prolific Vimeo poster Vyacheslav Ivanov, it shows a series of flakes unfolding into the beautiful six-sided ice crystals we've all come to recognize.

Snowflakes owe their gorgeous geometry to the fact that water expands when it freezes. First, a water droplet freezes around a dust particle in the atmosphere. As more water molecules land on the crystal, arms project outward in six directions. The flake's unique shape is determined by the ambient temperature and humidity.

Got it? Now the next time you catch a snowflake on your tongue, you'll know exactly what you've just destroyed.

(h/t io9)