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Like sand through the hourglass...
July 16, 2011 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Going to the beach this weekend? This is what you'll be standing on.
posted by nathancaswell (28 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
The images are from sandgrains.com
posted by warbaby at 6:54 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sand is crushed rock, and rocks have a history.

I have occasionally looked at sand under a microscope and most sand grains aren't as interesting as the ones pictured. Most sand grains just look like crushed quartz crystals. But the process that beats up rocks to make sand sometimes gets more interesting rocks like agate nodules. When those get crushed and tumbled by the sea you get the "little treasures."

But it is misleading to suggest that if you rush to the beach with a microscope you will find every grain a miniature wonder. The vast majority of them are much more boring.
posted by localroger at 6:55 AM on July 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the better link, warbaby, mods feel free to change the link in the post.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:05 AM on July 16, 2011


Little bitty man, lord lord lord
Little bitty man, lord lord lord
Little bitty man, lord lord lord
Little bitty man, lord lord lord

Picking up sand, lord lord lord
Picking up sand, lord lord lord
Picking up sand, lord lord lord
Picking up sand, lord lord lord

Grain by grain, lord lord lord
Grain by grain, lord lord lord
Grain by grain, lord lord lord
Grain by grain, lord lord lord
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I briefly wondered why Kitten Block kicked in.

On-topic, the Okinawan sand is made of adorable skeletons.
posted by Katemonkey at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The sandgrains.com site isn't all that great, really. The images he posts are pretty small, although a lot of them are pretty cool. But a lot of them are composites he Photoshops together, apparently -- photographing individual sand grains and then stitching them together for a better-looking picture. And the weird amalgams of sand grain closeups with sunsets and "footprints in the sand" photos are pretty reminiscent of Geocities.

The large photos on the Daily Mail are neat, too bad there are only those few of them.
posted by Gator at 7:19 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's all well and good, Daily Mail.

But let's cut to the chase: does sand cause cancer or not?
posted by MuffinMan at 7:20 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


See also Sand Collection - a set on Flickr. I like this scale better, it shows sand, not grains of sand.
posted by Nelson at 7:21 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm going to Blackpool. I'll be standing on donkey turds.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:30 AM on July 16, 2011


[Link changed as requested. Please do use the contact form in preference to snarking in the thread about the source, though. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:37 AM on July 16, 2011


Here are some more images (not great quality) from the Science Museum of Minnesota, where there's “Exploring the Microscopic World of Sand Grains” exhibit.

Some decently high-res pictures from a non-evil site.

A promotional video for the guy's book.

A more detailed article - not by Greenberg.

A SciAm slideshow with high res (click the picture) for a lot of the material in his book.
posted by codacorolla at 7:39 AM on July 16, 2011


A "Virtual Sand Collection" that has microscopic shots classified by region. Not great quality to the images tho...
posted by codacorolla at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2011


A guide to collecting sand.

It seems like the best sort of old man hobby!
posted by codacorolla at 7:44 AM on July 16, 2011


Sand is crushed rock

Well, a certain amount of beach sand is going to be shell or other hard secreted animal product. It's not ALL rock.
posted by hippybear at 7:45 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyone else expecting to see beer cans and hypodermic needles?
posted by swift at 7:48 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not ALL rock.

It is in Nice! :-[ Pebble beaches here from Nice to Saint Laurent du Var. Sand in Villefranche and Antibes, though.

Beautiful photos of the sand grains. I enjoyed reading about how he had to do several layers of various focus levels and merge them in order to get a wider range of detail.
posted by fraula at 7:53 AM on July 16, 2011


If each grain of sand is so beautiful and unique, imagine how beautiful and unique each person is?

And imagine how good they feel between your toes when you walk all over them!
posted by anthill at 8:36 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


While on a mission to learn about washboard roads I came upon this interesting blog which led me to this article about the sand of Normandy beach.
posted by maggieb at 9:05 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also expected needles and oil spill tar patches.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:05 AM on July 16, 2011


If each grain of sand is so beautiful and unique, imagine how beautiful and unique each person is?

localroger: "But it is misleading to suggest that if you rush to the beach with a microscope you will find every grain a miniature wonder. The vast majority of them are much more boring."

So the analogy works.
posted by kilo hertz at 9:40 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Each grain of sand is a special snowflake.
posted by LordSludge at 11:31 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


3D solar sand printer and cutter
posted by hortense at 11:51 AM on July 16, 2011


Ugh. Interesting stuff, but the 70's called and they want their head-shop posters back
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:24 PM on July 16, 2011


the 70's called and they want their head-shop posters back

No, no. That's no 70s poster there, friend. This is a 70s poster.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:05 PM on July 16, 2011


You're right; on second thought I should have said "early-80's Spencer's Gifts posters".
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:11 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every grain of sand in the world is unique and beautiful when viewed through the microscope

Another geologist here piping up to say that this is completely false. But since I'm staying up all night looking at small flakes of shale right now, I might go for the sand anyways.
posted by bumpkin at 1:47 AM on July 17, 2011


If each grain of sand is so beautiful and unique, imagine how beautiful and unique each person is?

This made me puke.
posted by londonmark at 5:45 AM on July 17, 2011


this makes me want to get a microscope again.
posted by farmersckn at 5:46 PM on July 29, 2011


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