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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.

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By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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History
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA
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Space
Mind-Bending New Images of Jupiter From Juno's Latest Flyby
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

NASA’s Juno spacecraft left Earth in August 2011, and has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, completing its eighth close flyby in late October. While flying beneath the dense cloud cover that obscures the solar system’s largest planet, it captured some incredible close-up views of the gas giant, as Newsweek reports.

With the JunoCam community, the public can alert NASA to points of interest and help direct the Juno mission. Citizen scientists have processed the raw, black-and-white images Juno beams back to Earth to highlight particular atmospheric features, collage multiple images, and enhance colors, releasing the edited color images before the space agency has a chance to. A whole new batch just emerged from the latest flyby, and they're well worth a look. Take a peek at a few below, and see more at the JunoCam website.

A swirl appears on Jupiter's surface.
NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Shawn Handran // Public Domain

A partial view of Jupiter
NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Shawn Handran // Public Domain

A close-up view of Jupiter's surface
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

A view of Jupiter's surface
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

[h/t Newsweek]

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