Super Magnified Grains of Sand Become Dramatic Works of Art

To the naked eye, all sand looks pretty much the same. But magnified by a hundred-fold or more, each individual grain exhibits a distinct beauty. Dr. Gary Greenberg photographs what he calls these "dramatic landscapes of hidden worlds" using a high-powered light microscope to give each grain its due.

"The reason I focus on sand is to show people how ordinary things are truly extraordinary when you look from a new point of view," Greenberg told the Huffington Post.

These tiny sand-sized shells are magnified 300 times.

The orange coloration on this grain from a beach in Costa Rica comes from chabazite, a glassy cubic mineral.

At 150 times its original size, this Japanese sand looks like a crystal.

The transparent Y in the middle of this pile of sand from Maui, Hawaii is part of the silca sponge spicules that form the internal skeleton of sea sponges.

This vivid volcanic sand is also from Maui.

The opalescent spiral was once the tip of a shell that was worn down into a tiny grain by the relentless surf.

This star is actually the skeletal shell of a single-celled foraminifera found in Okinawa, Japan.

Greenberg's photographs feature grains of sand from all over the world—and beyond. In collaboration with Dr. Carol Kiely and Professor Christopher Kiely from Lehigh University, he has been photographing grains of sand from the moon that were collected during the Apollo 11 voyage. There are no crashing waves to create sand on the lunar surface, though; instead, the dust is the result of a constant battering on the moon's surface by meteorites and micro meteorites. Take a look:

If you want more of these mini masterpieces, Greenberg has a whole book of sand photos as well as series featuring other microphotographic wonders.

All photos courtesy of Dr. Gary Greenberg.

The Strange Reason Why It's Illegal to Take Nighttime Photos of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most-photographed landmarks on Earth, but if photographers aren't careful, snapping a picture of the Parisian tower at the wrong hour and sharing it in the wrong context could get them in legal trouble. As Condé Nast Traveler reports, the famous monument is partially protected under European copyright law.

In Europe, copyrights for structures like the Eiffel Tower expire 70 years after the creator's death. Gustave Eiffel died in 1923, which means the tower itself has been public domain since 1993. Tourists and professional photographers alike are free to publish and sell pictures of the tower taken during the day, but its copyright status gets a little more complicated after sundown.

The Eiffel Tower today is more than just the iron structure that was erected in the late 19th century: In 1985, it was outfitted with a nighttime lighting system consisting of hundreds of projectors, a beacon, and tens of thousands of light bulbs that twinkle every hour on the hour. The dazzling light show was designed by Pierre Bideau, and because the artist is alive, the copyright is still recognized and will remain so for at least several decades.

That being said, taking a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower after dark and sharing it on Instagram won't earn you a visit from Interpol. The law mainly applies to photographers taking pictures for commercial gain. To make sure any pictures you take of the illuminated tower fall within the law, you can contact the site's operating company to request publishing permission and pay for rights. Or you can wait until the sun comes up to snap as many perfectly legal images of the Parisian icon as you please.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

Scientists Share the Most Ridiculous Stock Photos of Their Jobs on Twitter

If you picture a scientist as a guy in a white lab coat who spends all day glaring at vials, you can blame popular media. A quick image search of the word scientist brings up dozens of stock photos that fit this stereotype. And when photos do diverge from the norm, things start to get weird. Now real-life scientists are sharing some of these bizarre depictions on Twitter using the hashtag #badstockphotosofmyjob.

Some stock photos contain errors that would go unnoticed by most members of the public. But show a professional a model posing with a beaker of dyed water, or a backwards double-helix, and they might have something to say.

Despite all the lab gear, safety rules are apparently broken all the time in stock photo world. On rare occasions fake scientists ditch the lab coats altogether for lingerie—or nothing at all.

Even more puzzling scientist stock photo trends include injecting plants with mysterious liquid and holding stethoscopes up to inanimate objects.

Fortunately, scientists from the real world are much better at their jobs than scientists in stock photos make them out to be. To get a clearer picture of how a scientist's job differs from the stereotype, check out some behind-the-scenes accounts of their work in the field.

[h/t IFL Science]


More from mental floss studios