From a distance, sand can look homogenous and quite frankly, boring. Scoop up a handful and examine it closely—or better yet, magnify it 100 times plus—and you realize just how many different shapes, colors, and materials can exist. Volcanic material, coral fragments, quartz grains, foraminifera shells, and more all tell different stories about its origins.
If you don't have access to sand and/or microscopes, Dr. Gary Greenberg has you covered. The biomedical researcher and microscope inventor takes amazing pictures of sands from all over the world. Given how beautiful the results are, it's unsurprising that his work has been widely circulated across the web. The picture above features grains found on a Hawaiian beach. Dr. Greenberg's website displays twenty additional photos, while his book (available on Amazon) contains over two hundred.