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. Who hath measured the waters in hollow of His hand…And comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales… Isiah 40:12

  2. Thank You Gary Greenberg and to all who put these pictures up for all of us to see. They are truly wondrous and incredibly beautiful. Outstanding Photography!!

  3. Thank you for sharing the marvel of sand!

    The more closely we look at the everyday things around us, the more awe inspiring they become. One might expect they would be a humbling influence on humans to some degree. Many times it is, but reading the thoughts of others I get the feeling not often enough perhaps. If we can’t share the special beauty of sand without being unkind, how can we expect to get along on a global scale, solve the really important problems on this tiny insignificant grain of sand we call home?! Therefore many do put their hope in a God, even if that god is science. But every holy book (I think) promotes peace, love, kindness & etc. So let us leave each person we contact with a beauty like we enjoy viewing the wonderous things around us. If inanimate objects can, intelligent humans should…if we try. One thing we all seem to agree on is if we look close enough at mere sand, what beauty we see! If we look as closely at each other, maybe we can see the beauty in each of us? OK, it may be true, at some of us you may have to look really hard, but still I pray we try. In the mean time what other wonders might we find? Surely some body had to design this stuff, someone a lot smarter than any human I have heard of. And chance so far means chaos.

    Thank you again for sharing the marvel of sand.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this wonder.

    I have looked at many grains of sand and of course unless it is a rocky beach or pebbly they all seem the same. I loved seeing these beautiful pictures. The internet has made it

    possible to see all the beautiful secrets of the globe brought by brilliant photographers and scientists. Thanks again

  5. I lived in Okinawa from 1978-1981, and spent many days shelling and exploring the wonders of the ocean and beaches there. I visited one of the small surrounding islands and admired the ‘stars’ in the sand. I could see the star shapes with the naked eye. What an experience. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photographs!

  6. Ready? Get this if you can- There are about 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (2000 billion billion) grains of sand on Earth; EACH ONE IS UNIQUE! There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth; EACH ONE HAS A NAME FROM JEHOVAH GOD! There are more connections in your Brain than there are grains of sand or even more than stars in the known universe! Try repeating that to 3 people. Check out this amazing web site. What are your comments? I need some Tylenol.

  7. This is truly a work of art. God in His infinite wisdom, has made each grain as individual as He made each person. Even though we share the same components,(DNA,Ectoplasm) etc. we are all as different as the grains of sand on the beach.

  8. What an amazing world Dr. Greenberg has opened up …

    This excerpt from William Blake’s poem (He lived from 1757-1827) shows that he was ahead of his time … or at least had an amazing vision, both physical and philosophical.

    ‘To see a world in a grain of sand,

    And a heaven in a wild flower,

    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

    And eternity in an hour.’

  9. Extraordinary! Other than walking barefoot on the beach I had not given sand much thought. I’ll never look at it as ordinary again. God is so good.

  10. fantastic discovery, truly mind-boggling! how precious our God given natural resources are, even a grain of sand.

    Thank you Jehovah and thank you Dr.Gary for revealing this matter to us.

  11. If you would like to see one of the very best dune sand collections in the world today, stop by Sand Master Park in Florence, Oregon USA and see our amazing display of SAND!

  12. Wow, I never would have thought that a grain of sand would be so magnificent! I’ve always thought that they were rounded off pebbles! That really made me think!

  13. What is so amazing, is that God thought all of this through and made all of it! I mean, it just blows my mind to think of how he made all of us and all of our surroundings! Praise God! 🙂

  14. Thank you for showing us another one of God’s wonderful creations. What an amazing God, taking the time to make even the smallest of his creations beautiful, unique and awe inspiring. I marvel at it.

  15. God God God…..blah blah blah….. our universe and everything in it is so vast and powerful, yet the human mind keeps returning to elementary beliefs…

  16. Unreal so beautiful.shame can’t be seen by human eye alone without being magnified …this gets around to all those greedy guys ,,there won’t be any sand left on any beach………

  17. I agree this is the most beautiful panet in the universe, just made for humans, by Jehovah God. What a wonderful place it will be to live without Satan’s system. How marvelous when every thing will be returned to the paradise Jehovah purposed. Maybe we will be able to see the beauty that is not apparent to us now. Yet there are so many beautiful things to enjoy now. Think what the new system will be like. Thank you for sharing this beauty of sand.

  18. What a wonderful example again of the wonder of that man upstairs, hwo gives us all these things to use and learn of. Thanks be to God.

  19. Sand : I love photography – not very good at it myself. This is so cool ! I had no idea our beaches were made up of these beautiful pieces of art work !

    Thans so much for showing us

  20. amazing how something can appear so plain and simple to the naked eye…when in truth each grain is a work of art, beyond imagination.

    Makes one ponder how much magic and beauty that surrounds us all daily goes by unnoticed.

    A true eye opener.

  21. I thoroughly enjoyed this website sent to me by a dear friend. Since I have a science degree I’ve seen al lot of this before but a refresher warms my heart.

  22. Thanks for sending. These are awsome pictures. Never imagined that much under my feet at the beach. The earth is an amazing place.

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