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Sand Looks Unbelievably Cool In Microscopic Photography

Ralphie Aversa
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You might have a new appreciation for sand grains on your next trip to the beach after viewing the microphotography of Dr. Gary Greenberg.

The Hawaii native can photograph an object as small as a single grain of sand and magnify it to 100 to 300 times its normal size. The results expose crystals, shells, and biological organisms unnoticeable to the naked eye.

Greenberg's passion for art and science seems to stem from his grandfather, who gave him the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci when he was a child.

"I would pore through these books, lying on the ground, looking at these wonderful drawings, the paintings that he had done," Greenberg said in a 2008 video on his YouTube channel. "For me, Leonardo was the poster boy of art and science."

According to Greenberg's website, the doctor has 18 US patents related to his development of high-definition and three-dimensional light microscopes. The UCLA graduate notes that his mission "is to reveal the secret beauty of the microscopic landscape that makes up our everyday world."

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The sand grains gallery features samples from beaches across the world. Grains from American beaches in California, Virginia, Hawaii, and Minnesota are featured, along with grains from Japan, Ireland, and Bermuda. Some of the grains display round shapes, while others are eroded, showing their interior. In addition to photographing the single grains, Greenberg combines them to compare and contrast their characteristics.

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"Every grain of sand in the world is unique and beautiful when viewed through the microscope," he writes in the caption for one picture that features nine separate grains. "If each grain of sand is so beautiful and unique, imagine how beautiful and unique each person is?"

In addition to the sand grains, Greenberg's website features galleries of other magnified objects, including flowers and food. While in London studying for his PhD, the photographer worked on the 1977 production of "Superman: The Film." Greenberg used the microphotography of pancreatic cancer cells to help create the opening scene.

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