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"Then in the years leading up to the twenty-first century, the use of sand expanded tremendously again, to fill needs both old and unprecedented. Concrete and glass began rapidly expanding their dominion from wealthy Western nations to the entire world. At roughly the same time, digital technology, powered by silicon chips and other sophisticated hardware made with sand, began reshap­ing the global economy in ways gargantuan and quotidian.

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8 reads

MORE IDEAS ON THIS

"[Sand is the] most impor­tant solid substance on Earth, the literal foundation of modern civilization. …Sand is the main material that modern cities are made of. It is to cities what flour is to bread, what cells are to our bodies: the invisible but fundamental ingredient that makes up the bulk ...

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42 reads

"Sand has been important to us for centuries, even millennia. People have used it for construction since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians. In the fifteenth century, an Italian artisan fig­ured out how to turn sand into fully transparent glass, which made possible the microscopes, telesc...

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12 reads

"But it was only with the advent of the modern industrialized world, in the decades just before and after the turn of the twentieth century, that people really began to harness the full potential of sand and begin making use of it on a colossal scale. It was during this period that sand went from...

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"The paint on your walls likely contains finely ground silica sand to make it more durable, and may include other forms of high-purity sands to increase its brightness, oil absorption, and color consistency. You flicked on the light, provided by a glass bulb made from melted sand. You meandered t...

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10 reads

"Dressed and ready, you drove to work on roads made of con­crete or asphalt. At the office, the screen of your computer, the chips that run it, and the fiber-optic cables that connect it to the Internet are all made from sand. The paper you print your memos on is probably coated with a sand-based...

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8 reads

"Sand is at the core of our daily lives. Look around you right now. Is there a floor beneath you, walls around, a roof overhead? Chances are excellent they are made at least partly out of concrete. And what is concrete? It's essentially just sand and gravel glued together with cement.

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40 reads

A Grain of Sand

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour..."

Auguries of Innocence

BY WILLIAM BLAKE

5

102 reads

"Bud­dhist monks and Navajo artisans have painted with it for centu­ries. 'Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives,' intone the opening credits of a classic American soap opera. William Blake encouraged us to 'see a world in a grain of sand.' Percy Bysshe Shelley reminded u...

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14 reads

"At the dawn of the twentieth century, almost all of the world's large structures - apartment blocks, office buildings, churches, palaces, fortresses - were made with stone, brick, clay, or wood. The tallest buildings on Earth stood fewer than ten stories high. Roads were mostly paved with broken...

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"Today, your life depends on sand. You may not realize it, but sand is there, making the way you live possible, in almost every minute of your day. We live in it, travel on it, communicate with it, surround ourselves with it.  Wherever you woke up this morning, chances are good it was in a buildi...

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"Your underwear snapped into place thanks to an elastic made with silicone, a synthetic compound also derived from sand. (Sili­cone also helps shampoo make your hair shinier, makes shirts less wrinkle-prone, and reinforced the boot sole with which Neil Arm­strong made the first footprint on the m...

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"Take a glance out the window. All those other buildings you see are also made from sand. So is the glass in that window. So are the miles of asphalt roads that connect all those buildings. So are the silicon chips that are the brains of your laptop and smart­phone. If you're in downtown San Fran...

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24 reads

"Today the construction industry worldwide consumes some $130 billion worth of sand each year. Sand lies deep in our cultural consciousness. It suffuses our language. We draw lines in it, build castles in it, hide our heads in it. In medieval Europe (and a classic Metallica song), the Sandman hel...

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"We humans bind together countless trillions of grains of sand to build towering structures, and we break apart the mol­ecules of individual grains to make tiny computer chips. Some of America's greatest fortunes were built on sand. Henry J. Kaiser, one of the wealthiest and most powerful industr...

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24 reads

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