As a young geophysicist in the 1980s, Rob Holman attended a conference in San Francisco that included a field trip to a beach. Dr. Holman, who grew up inland, in Ottawa, stared at the ocean, assessing the strengths and vectors of the waves and currents. But when he looked around, everyone else was studying the sand.

He realized, he recalled, that “sand is not the same everywhere.” So he started collecting it. “I collected a few samples and put them in jars,” he said. “Then I had so many I built a rack. Then I built three more racks. Then I built four more.”

Today Dr. Holman is best known as a coastal oceanographer at Oregon State University whose computerized photography system, called Argus, has given researchers new ways to observe and measure beaches. But he still collects sand, which he displays on shelves in the corridor outside his office. By now he has almost a thousand samples. Read More...

SOURCE: The New York Times