Some grains of sand are alive, the foraminifera. Their shells make up a lot of the pretty grains of sand in that book.
I don't know where they get their sand, but the sand I collected from the beach just looks like tiny tiny rocks.
Just finished reading "The Forgotten Genius" a biography of Robert Hook, 17th century scientist, contemporary of Newton, who was one of the first to use microscopes to look at grains of sand... it's fascinating to look at some of the scientific theories from back then, especially the theories that no one wanted to believe but which turned out to be close to the truth.
I grew up living just a few clicks from a beach. It was all tiny beige rocks.
I love to dabble in macro photography... a few years back I happened to be near a beach with an hour of free time and took a few photos (A few of which I've added to the flickr pool):
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