Sand Magnified

Sand grains magnified 110-250 times reveal each grain is unique.

grains of sand
The tip of a spiral shell has broken off and become a grain of sand. After being repeatedly tumbled by action of the surf this spiral sand grain has become opalescent in character. It is surrounded by bits of coral, a pink shell fragment, a foram (a type of protozoa) and volcanic material. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

grains of sand
A handful of sand grains selected from a beach in Maui and arranged on a black background. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

Every grain of sand in the world is unique when viewed through a microscope.
sand grains
Sand magnified 250 times. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

sand grains magnified
Sand Magnified. Photo by Yanping Wang.

magnified sand
Sand magnified 250 times. Photo via Tumblr.

Sand Magnified Around The World

grains of sand
The glacially deposited sands around Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota, contain abundant sediments from the igneous and metamorphic minerals of the Lake Superior basin. A sample includes pink garnets, green epidote, iron-rich red agates, black magnetite, and hematite. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

sand grains magnified
Magnified grains of star sand from Southern Japan, made up of the calcified shells of tiny organisms. Photo by Richard Mouser Williams.


Beautiful Framed Seashell

Neat idea for decorating a beach house, or any space you want a splash of the sea. The frame is 14″x17″, and yes, it’s a real seashell. Sold by for $119.99.

magnified grains of sand
Magnified grains of Star Sand. Photo by Richard Mouser Williams.

grains of sand
Puffy Stars: Star-Shaped Sand Grains from Okinawa. These tiny foram, a type of protozoa, secrete beautiful star-shaped, calcium carbonate shells, or tests. Photo via

magnified sand
Coral sand magnified one-hundred times using transmission electron microscopy, brightfield mode. By Dr. David Maitland, Feltwell, UK,

grain of sand
Many grains of sand are tiny crystals (shiny, flat-sided solids). Sand from Zushi Beach, Japan, contains what looks like a sapphire crystal. The crystal is larger than the surrounding grains and has survived eroding because of its hardness and quality. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

grain of sand
Fragments of baby sea urchin shells, magnified one-hundred times. Biogenic sand, formed from the remains of marine life, is the major ingredient of many tropical beaches. Via

grains of sand
A magnified view of the tropical beach sand from the Caribbean island of St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands). The grains include porous fragments of brightly-colored corals, minute foraminiferan shells, fragments of sea shells and shiny, star-shaped sponge spicules. Photo via

Sand Photographer Dr. Gary Greenberg

Every grain of sand is a jewel waiting to be discovered. That’s what Dr. Gary Greenberg found when he first turned his microscope on beach sand. Gemlike minerals, colorful coral fragments, and delicate microscopic shells reveal that sand comprises much more than tiny beige rocks.

Author and photographer Dr. Gary Greenberg is a visual artist who creatively combines art with science. He has a Ph.D. in biomedical research from University College London and holds 17 patents for high-definition 3-D light microscopes. Dr. Greenberg lives in Haiku, Hawaii.

Dr. Greenberg has published two books:

The Universe Of Sand

Carl Sagan famously remarked “the total number of stars in the universe is greater than all the grains of sand on all the beaches on the planet Earth.” University of Hawai’i researches estimate that the total number of ‘all’ grains of sand on the whole planet could be approximately 75 billion billion. Scientists still believe there are more stars in the Universe.

Speaking of planets: If a grain of sand represented an entire galaxy; so each grain of sand, or galaxy, contains 100’s of billions of stars, you would need to fill six rooms full of sand to contain all the galaxies in the known universe. If you drilled a tiny hole in one of the grains of sand, ‘our Milky Way universe,’ that would be the area that we have been capable of seaching for planets so far. About 2000 planets have been discovered so far.

Written by Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building. Keiren originally founded Inspiration Green in 2007, which merged with Insteading in 2016.


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  1. Sounds a fun project!

    Unfortunately I do not have the rights to give you permission. You would need to get Dr. Gary Greenberg’s permission. I think if you are making a quilt with loosely rendered grains of sand…you would not need permission. If on the other hand you are going to copy a photo as to exact placement of sand grains, etc…you would. Hope the quilt comes out fabulous!

  2. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! In the East, we call what you want to know is the Dao (The Way). Of course, everything you want to know which explained in this precious book, please spend your times to read the

    Zhuan Falun Book

  3. Hi,

    I am getting ready to launch of site about the common man or everyman. I was trying to think of a name and came up with Grains of Sand. When I searched the web, I stumbled on this site and it is perfect! The beauty in those solitary grains of sand are astounding and lead me to believe that my name might be apropos for my site about common people. Awesome.

    • It was created for us and for us to be its stewards. Just do the best you can and try to show others how to do the same. Blessings. ^_^

  4. Unbelievable what really is a grain of sand. Our eyes can view sand as all one color scheme,but the individual beauty is hidden from our naked eye.

  5. Those of us who’ve love a walk on the beach will never see it quite the same after viewing these photos. Loved the entire presentation.

  6. Just reminds me how YHWH created each one of us as unique individuals. Although we may see ourselves as unimportant we are precious in God’s eyes, just as He made each grain of sand special, so He created us.

    • Check C.S, Lewis who so appropriately said “There is no ordinary human.., we are All Divine beings and if we could see the dullest and uninteresting person as he appears in heaven, we would want to worship him, etc”

  7. Each one is unique, like us humans, and like animals and trees; every form of life is precious in God’s Creation.

    Let us never stop being amazed, grateful and respectful of all life!

  8. I’m in AWE! And some people still wonder if there is a God? Who, other than a God that loves us, could have created such a Wonder?

  9. This once again prove that God is the creator. Man can make a shaving blade and it looks good to the naked eye. But if you looked into it with a magnifying glass the blade looks like a hacksaw. But God’s creation the more one looked into it with a magnify glass the more perfect it looks. Psalm 19:1 says: The heavens declare the glory of God.

  10. A project for art students is to match paint color to a handful of small rocks, always an eye opening lesson, for every rock has it’s own beautiful color. Showing the wonders beyond the rocks right under our beach toes leaves me astounded. This beauty of our world,’ Grains of Sand’, should be in every classroom beyond the art room.

  11. I am 80 years old. I thought I had seen or read every thing of interest to me. I didn’t even come close! This is absolutely one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Robert

  12. I love this article. It is beautiful and so informative, Thank you for sharing. I, too, love Hawaii and spend summers on Kauai from Rancho Mirage, California.

    Thank you

    Frances Miller

  13. The only thing set in stone is stone itself and it’s destiny is to become grains of sand ‘

    too soon to be famous quote by D Raymond

  14. Its wonderful to see this.God made all this for us to enjoy. What a great God he is. The pictures are great. I really enjoyed this.Thanks.

  15. This is extremely false and not plausible. Sand is a rock that has been whiddled down to a tiny smooth rock. There are not little tiny sea shells inside a grain of sand that is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever read. You should rethink this article and delete it.

    • No one said there was tiny sea shells in a grain of sand!! These photo’s are sand magnified hundreds of times. No one made this up, it is fact!

  16. I think sand should be banned. I have enough evidence now to completely debunk sand and expose all those who support sand as criminals and frauds! Obama, please start the war on sand immediately!

  17. Some say all sand is the same, some marvel that its variety proves the existence and beneficence of god (nope), some conjure great applications for sand (only leaving out all of the details), and some doubt the veracity of the images. This comments section is quite like sand – highly varied and curious to behold but pretty stupid.

  18. absolutely amazing and incredible this is. I could look at grains of sand all day long it’s just so beautiful and interesting!. As an artist I see them like tiny sculptures and all put together, they’re like one big beautiful painting …thank you for doing this really inspiring!

  19. MY SON was in the national guard. Toured Iraq and Afgainhistan. Brought sand back from Iraq. I often wonder what is in that bottle of sand. We lost him to PTSD. SO, the sand is in a water bottle on my antique cabinet.

    Just a thought of what is in that bottle. He told us there we nuclear plants near their base.

    I enjoyed the pictures. I will share them with my grandson. He love rocks. They studied them in second grade. He is now in sixth.



  20. Modern machines (electron microscope or a video capturing a split second event) can reveal amazing things to us, but people like Marianna Villani, in the comment section on this page, find scientists and their work hard to believe. People like her suffer from a condition where trusting scientific information that is beyond basic knowledge is too difficult, especially if they are convinced it conflicts with their religious faith. In fact, some are easily convinced of impossibly unbelievable things if the subject is religion. She lives on a flat Earth, no planets in her universe, no atomic particles, nothing is real that is complicated to understand, unless it’s a conspiracy.

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