“Pick up a single grain from the beach, look at it through a magnifying glass, and you have embarked on a journey taken by poets, artists, and philosophers—not to mention geologists”, writes Michael Welland in Sand: The Neverending Story. Sand is everywhere, and each grain tells a story, if you look closely enough.

As he visits geology blogs on his virtual book tour, Welland explores the mysteries of quicksand, green sand, and whether there are more grains of sand on earth than stars in the sky, and reveals some surprising uses for sand, from computer chips to measuring the age of prehistoric cave paintings.

Welland’s first stop was the geology blog Clastic Detritus, for a book review followed by a Q&A. Then it was on to the NOVA Geoblog, where he answered students’ questions on all things sand-related, and to a review and conversation at Stories in Stone, where Welland explored connections between sand and language, and discussed coastal development and and his collection of vintage sand fact cards. Last week Andrew Alden reviewed the book on About.com: Geology, and Welland joined the discussion forum. Check Welland’s blog Through the Sand Glass for more on the virtual book tour, and to join the conversation.

In this interview on the WICN Public Radio program Inquiry, Welland explains what sand is made of, why it collects in piles and dunes and why you can’t build a sandcastle underwater, and sheds light on the incredibly diverse ecosystems that exist in between grains of sand.