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.


Leave a Reply
  1. This is fantastic. I love every bit of Science (except for those damned thermodynamics!) and I especially loved this read. And to the god commenter, yeah right.

  2. This is mind blowingly beautiful!! Wow, such gorgeous uniqueness in every single grain. Who would have thought that grains of sand contain such an infinitum of distinctive exquisite creation? Thank you Supreme Creator indeed! Only pure intelligent design could construct such fractal micro/macro-cosmic design. I am so glad to know that from grains of sand, to vast entire universes, creation is boundless in its intellectual sculpting of existence.



  5. I love what all the differents of sand is. Like the black sand coming from the lava, and red sand and white sand and the fish poop that makes sand.. Thanks for sharing your beautiful side of what sand does.. and makes..

  6. What a great GOD we serve! Only He could create such infinitesimal things. God is GREAT!

    Thanks so much for your research. As another person said, I will NEVER look at sand the same way again!

  7. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Now I don’t feel so bad having the name ‘Sandy’ or when a friend shortened it to just ‘Sand’

  8. Thank you for sharing this magnificient beauty of nature …Thanks for reminding His words ,

    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.’ Love from one of the tiniest intellgent organisms on one of big blue marbles in the solar system,in the milky way, the universe:)

  9. It is wonderful how technology advancements, science and creativity expand the field of perspective we have on the universe. A very novel idea taking microscopes to a subject commonly disregarded as bland.

  10. Thanks for opening my eyes!

    I have a habit of collecting sand, rock, mud,…from places when I travel. I would like to use your magnifying camera to look into my collection to unlock the secret of the history of nature.

    Thank you for sharing.

  11. I will never see sand as an irritation or nuisance again. Bless you for sharing these remarkable photos and for your ability to recognize the glory of the infantesimal.

  12. Thank you for listening to your intuition and following it to this remarkable discovery.

    Just makes us realise how Great our creator is,The giver of life who cannot be compared to anything.

    Thank you for sharing Mr Greenburg;)

  13. Why do people keep giving credit to god? Not to be rude, but it’s a combination of water degradation and friction upon other particles. And the source of the sand is terrestrial. It is beautiful, but it’s also natural. We don’t need an excuse like a higher power to have things like this in the universe. Not that I’m bashing, but i’m pretty sure if he made up our whole universe, he wasn’t thinking about making things pretty. They just happen to suit our human concept of beautiful… I mean he made the ugly, too, didn’t he? Why are we being so selective here…

  14. So, are you trying to say that God only has relation to the spiritual and supernatural and not also to the physical creation? What is so odd about God using natural means, when he was their author in the first place? Where did your ‘human conception’ of beauty come from, and why do we uniformly hold something like these photos to be fascinating? As well, if you don’t understand the fall, you won’t understand the ugly. God didn’t make imperfection, but at the culmination of human history all fallen earth will be recreated into what it was meant to be (Check out the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans).

  15. To Joanie.. You may certainly look at all of this and all of Creation as nothing more than an accident of the universe if you wish.. but I’m here to tell you that those that do.. those that refuse to believe that there is a design behind the brilliance we can observe with our own eyes.. all have one thing in common.. You lack a sense of ”AWE”. In other words you are not impressed sufficiently with what you see. If you were and you understood the magnitude of what is laid out before you..You too would have that sense of ”AWE” that makes it impossible to think that this is nothing more than accidental.

  16. now just imagine if each one of those grains of sand were a universe in itself populated with life forms like our little blue marble, earth? The mystery of it is fascinating! I enjoy musing about the human body in the same way…What miracles to behold. How great is the gift of life. And the gift of imagination.

  17. Thank you for the moment in space and time that I experienced looking at and listening to this site. It allowed me to momentarily feel my connection of place as a being in the line from the microscopic wink of those grains of sand to the spiraling Universe.

    Thank you for reminding me what I am, a part of all that is.

  18. just never ever thought about the beauty of sand and i love the beach even more now what jewels God gives us and even we are made all different and fearfully and wonderfully amen thank you

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