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. This is so beautiful. Our world is taken for granted. There is so much uniqueness I am humbles and made to feel precious at the same time. Thank you.

  2. I agree this is beautiful stuff here….will definitely be picking up a handful of sand to ponder on my next trip to the beach.

    To all those who immediately view this as evidence for God…

    It is so much easier to invoke ‘God’ when we see something wonderful than to search deeper for a more rational explanation. Peace.

  3. I like all of the photo’s gives me a different perspective on what treasures i step on. so now I wonder what the grains of sand look like up on the beaches near Nome.

  4. What a marvelous goup of photos that should be used in every school classroom from beginning 1st gread to 12th – would get so many more students interested in science, study of the ocean, the stars, atsmosphere, ecology, and the list is endless. Today, kids are so lucky to have forensics and genetics fields of study available to them, fields that were unknown to me when I was in school back in the 50s and 60s!

  5. It is remarkable to be able to see what a grain of sand looks like when magnified. Lob to Dr. Gary Greenberg. We still have so many things to be amazed with! Hurrah! for that!

  6. I love seeing this! It makes you old does the grains go back. Was there sand when the Earth

    was formed? So beautiful! How do they know that there are that many stars???

  7. What a Creator God! What beauty, what absolute beauty. Can u imagine how amazing God made everything and so perfectly. Imagine what the new heaven and new earth is going to be with even more brilliant and wonderful creation before our very eyes. Thank you for sharing this beauty.

  8. I never would have imagined! God, our creator is amazing! So much of His magnificence…in such a tiny spec. Praise God.

  9. Nice photos. A close look at the material on the beaches in the Bahamas, might reveal almost uniform oval grains of pure calcium carbonate (aragonite).

  10. Would be interesting to magnify sands on ‘The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches’ that washed down from the Appalachian Mountains.

  11. The more primitive the culture, the more fervent and radical the religious beliefs.

    The overwhelming flaw in religious belief is that it is ultimately self serving (selfish). Its all about saving oneself and self preservation. A far more worthy person is an atheist who puts others first and does the right thing just because they can, not to qualify for some insane immortality in the clouds.

  12. I also am a grain of sand, the one and only me. Created by God. Let us see how I turn out when magnified….hopefully as nice as some of theses.

  13. Don’t tread on me….

    We seem to all agree in the wonderment of what we see here, or there would be no posts or comments. Please share the enjoyment and the unity without criticism of others’ individual beliefs, which are as beautiful in their diversity as the sand and stars. Peace to all~

  14. Thanks for sharing this wonderful video. Sure goes along with what God told Abraham in Genesis 32:12

  15. Every one you know is different. Every grain of sand is different. Every flak of snow is different. Every drop of rain is different. That’s the beauty of it all.

  16. It gives me great confidence in the expected survival of the human race. For on ly, IO believe, when we fully are able to comprehend the vastnes and complexity of all nature in this cosmos will we have achieved our reason for existence and completed the destiny. Call it Nirvana , if you will !

  17. Just like snow flakes, except they last longer! How fantastic and beautiful. Can we also compare them with the humans that compose our world??

  18. GOBSMACKED: There is no God in that word.

    Completely dumbfounded, shocked. From the Irish word ‘gob’ meaning ‘mouth’.

  19. Purchased the book to become even more amazed at the beautiful creation we have all around us! Thank you, Dr. Greenberg!

  20. In the time of my confession,

    in the hour of my deepest need

    When the pool of tears beneath my feet

    flood every newborn seed

    There’s a dyin’ voice within me

    reaching out somewhere

    Toiling in the danger

    and in the morals of despair

    Don’t have the inclination

    to look back on any mistake

    Like Cain, I now behold this chain

    of events that I must break

    In the fury of the moment

    I can see the Master’s hand

    In every leaf that trembles,

    in every grain of sand


  21. Genesis 22:17 Jehovah God tells Abraham that He will multiply his seed like the stars of heaven and like the grains of sand on the seashore…Jehovah will do this on the earth, we have that promise in the Lords Prayer…’Let your kingdom come on earth as in heaven’ Jesus is the King of that heavenly Kingdom (government) and the earth will be a paradise again, as God intended in the beginning. Revelations 21: 4-5..Psalms 37:9-11 These pictures show Jehovah’s wisdom..

  22. Gee, those religious fanatics have to drag their bible into everything. They should rather consider the wondrous complexities of those pieces of sand, or what Carl Sagan said about the unimaginable size of the Universe – and wonder – and be amazed by that alone.

  23. To the skeptics who do not believe in God. God is all around us. He created nature and the universe. To me it takes allot more faith to not believe in God than to believe in God because the signs are all around.

  24. If this is not proof of God’s existence, I wouldn’t know what is! The photography is beautiful beyond words. Thank you so much.

  25. I like most of viewers of Cosmos watched with awe on the television in the mid-70’s when it was first shown.

    Out of no where I thought about Cosmos and decided to purchase a copy about 3 weeks ago. I must say, I was amazed all over again (though it did seem a bit dated).

    When Carl Sagan died I must have been depressed for a month.


    Des Moines, IA

  26. Those pics just blew me away. I would have never even imagined those unique shapes and

    colors. God works in mysterious ways. Thanks

    for sharing the beauty.

  27. So beautiful Gorgeous colors.

    Too bad we do not see it that way

    But people would take them to make small beautiful gardens, there wouldn’t be any left

    This is again the work of God

    He knew they had to be very very small

    Thank you for sending

  28. This is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. The wonders of nature never cease to amaze me and God is the creator of this amazing beauty. It is just wonderful – beyond words.

  29. Phenomenal. It just proves to me that our planet and the universe are far beyond our human comprehension!

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