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 beauty is a true testament to the 4 billion years of aquatic biodiversity of Earth. ? You could study your whole life and only gain a glimpse into the chemistry, evolution, and vast vast time spans that led to such complexity on every scale. ? The how and why is the true beauty. ? For those of you that choose to believe it all just appeared because your were too lazy to study the sciences in school, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes, ‘Religion is the crutch of the weak minded’.

  2. like grains of sand through the hourglass these are the days of our lives. and just think any fragments of organisms in the sand all had dna which in itself is totally different than any before or after it. talk about individualism!!!

  3. Brings back memories of 50 some years ago while my 7th grade science teacher was talking…..I was thinking that we are but a grain of sand in creation but how special we are! Thank you for bringing forth the beauty.

  4. Our God is awesome, not only did he create each of us unique and with our own identity He also showed that He was so creative, that every tree, every blade of grass, every grain of sand could be the same and so completely different at the same time. Praise HIs Holy Name!!!

  5. Philip wrote, with sarcasm: (O)ne of my favorite quotes, ‘Religion is the crutch of the weak minded’. To which my favorite responses has always been: ‘Yes, religion is indeed my crutch; and pray, sir, what is yours?’

  6. I have to say that this is amazing. My son sho is ten now has always loved rocks crystals, and anything to do with geology. I would love to bye the book and find out more of our earths unknown beauty.

    Thank you!

  7. We live in Colorado. We own a condo on the Inland Waterway in St. Petersburg Florida. We have just returned from the Gulf of Mexico beaches.

    Having been scuba divers, we have shell collections from all over. However, this beats all. Betsy

  8. Brilliant! Wonderful! Gorgeous! Nature is truly astonishing and this work shows a special something that has been under our feet all this time. Love it. Think about it carefully.

  9. Absolutely astounding! Makes one carefully consider and appreciate the greatness of our Creator. Many thanks for sharing!

  10. I collect sand ~ every time I go anywhere I bring some home. There is a verse in the Bible somewhere where it talks about us being as different as a grain of sand and this just proved it! Thank you for your beautiful research and photos! Awesome!

  11. I had no idea how beautiful sand is, nor did I know that each grain of sand is different from any other. I am continously amazed by the beauty we can find on our ‘blue marble.’

  12. I am entranced by the tip of the blue spiral seashell as small as a grain of sand and mirrors the image of the whole shell. It speaks of how each cell is a diagram for the whole entity. It is also incredibly beautiful.

  13. It is amazing to see that God has created everything so uniquely that no two things are exactly alike. It shows just how special each of us are to Him that He created us all equal but distinctive and that He has an individual relationship with all of us.

  14. Who is to say that our Cosmos or Universe is not a handful of sand on a beach of a gigantic world, beyond comprehension … and that it, in turn, is not a handful of sand………? etc, etc, etc….. It boggles the mind!

  15. I will be in awe when I walk the sands of any beach from this day forward.

    The past cells of once live animals and objects not of this planet. Such beauty I would never have known.

    Thanks to scientists who look deeper than the human eye and brain could conceive.

  16. I am always in awe with God’s perfect creations. So amazing, beautiful, spectacular and magnificent. There are not enough word’s to describe. Thank you so much for sharing with us all. Maria

  17. I have walked the beaches of Hawaii, the beaches of the East coast of the U.S.A., the beaches of the west coast of America. I now live in the desert with abundant sand. God has truly given me a gift!

  18. thank God for what He has given us- this is truly amazing-a work of art. We live in a world made by God and filled with His beautiful artwork, yet nobody seems to notice or care. How about we stop and smell the roses, and then thank God for them!

  19. Most wonderful effort to bring us nearer to understanding the hidden secrets of Nature, to open our minds to reality often ignored by us as insignificant, our own foolishness.

  20. How unbelievably naive of me to think that a grain of sand is just speck of gray, black, silver, white or pink matter! A brilliant and creative-mind found what is inside and shared with us what the wonderful Creator made

  21. Such splendor, such beauty can only be found in the works of God. It’s beyond human capacity to create all this, thus appreciate the almighty for all what he has given along with the reasons as to why they are in the service of mankind. Man has produced the computer but who has given Man the brain – God and God alone.

  22. Magnifcent, the handthat made them is divine, testifying to the creator’s power, man tries to copy these masterpieces! God is in control

  23. And yet some, even those who marvel at the indescribable, stunning clarity and detail of the design, insist on denying the wisdom, the power, and even the existence of the Designer. Wow.

  24. God promised Abraham that his descendants would be like the sands of the seashore. If we find these tiny grains of sand breathtaking, think how beautiful God’s children are to Him.

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