Microscopic sand grains magnified x200. The tip of a shell spiral surrounded by (from noon clockwise): 1) a pink shell fragment; 2) a foram; 3) a microscopic shell; 4) a volcanic melt; and 5) coral; image from the Scientific American

Volcanic rocks, coral shards, splinters of sea urchin spines, crushed fish bones and shells rubbed into opalescent granules by the wash of ocean tides make up each individual grain of sand that have come into being over thousands of years. Dr Gary Greenberg converges science and art revealing the hidden beauty of nature through microphotography. Other objects examined by Greenberg’s lense include lunar rocks brought back from Apollo 11′s trip to the moon, human bones and retina, flowers and foods.

Namibia: Sand from Skeleton Coast in Namibia, Africa, contains well-rounded black magnetite, garnet and possibly a tiny diamond near the middle left of the frame. (magnification 250X) ; image from the Scientific American

The glacially deposited sands around Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota contain abundant sediments from the igneous and metamorphic minerals of the Lake Superior basin. This sample includes pink garnets, green epidote, iron-rich red agates, black magnetite and hematite. (magnification 100X; image from the Scientific American

The “Y” shaped glassy structure at the top is a sponge spicule, which functions as the internal skeleton of most sponges. Just to the left and down are two perfectly formed microscopic shells. Just to the right and down from the sponge spicule is a bit of brown sea urchin spine, with its intricate structural design; and, to the right of that is a pink and white bit of a broken seashell. At the very bottom of the frame is a tiny, white, tube-building worm; image from the Scientific American

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