THE GREAT SAND DUNES

 Beautiful sand dunes in Colorado.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
— WILLIAM BLAKE

Input this simple equation into Wolfram Alpha:

 

number of stars in the observable Universe
----------------------------------------------
number of grains of sand on Earth

 

number of stars in the observable universe = 3 x 10 to the power of 23

number of grains of sand on Earth = approx. 1 x 10 to the power of 20

 

Results:

(0.2 to 4000)

Therefore, there are probably more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand on this Earth.

NOW, INPUT THIS Query INTO WOLFRAM ALPHA:

 

number of atoms in a grain of sand

 

Results:

6.495 x 10 to the power of 20 atoms*
 

Therefore, there are probably almost as many atoms in a single grain of sand as there are grains of sand on this Earth.


 Medano Creek only shows up in spring at the Great Sand Dunes park.
 A traveler in the sand dunes of a small desert.
 Surveying the sand dunes, Colorado.
 Grains of sand at Sand Dunes national park.
 Patterns made by the wind at Great Sand Dunes national park.

SOURCES AND FURTHER READING:

Pieter G. van Dokkum and Charlie Conroy (2010).

www.wolframalpha.com

www.universetoday.com

 

*Note that sand particles can vary in size, and their composition - of silica and oxygen particles - will vary depending on location.