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Seeing the Unseen: How Sand Builds Our World
with Vince Beiser

Sand. It’s everywhere and it’s foundational to the built and digital worlds, yet we rarely see or think about it. Vince Beiser’s the World in a Grain tells the story of sand as it makes its way into the materials that make up our world: concrete, glass, silicon chips, and beyond. In this episode of the podcast, we explore some of the broader implications of sand – what it means to build worlds, how to grapple with the largesse of sand’s impact as we run out of this critical resource, and what, if anything, we can change in our relationship to sand. It’s about infrastructure, but it’s also about our relationship to infrastructure and how often the use of more resources begets the use of… more resources. We dive a little into the magic of sand, not just to house and transport us, but also the creation of the lens and how sand allows us to see things really small, really far away, and also really everyday – through glasses. We also talk about time, which sand is a measurement for and also a manifestation of, with the average grain of sand created over 200 million years. This is a conversation that will change the way you see and relate to your world. 

Find Vince:

World in a Grain: the Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization

Power Metal Newsletter

X: @VinceBeiser


Books Mentioned:

Crossings and Eager by Ben Goldfarb

Ninety Percent of Everything with Rose George

Other Episodes of Interest:

With Ben Goldfarb

Solo on Infrastructure

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