Beach gems and a flying carpet

The wondrousness of the natural world inheres in even the smallest things. Two articles recently reminded me of this easy-to-forget truth. One was about sand, the other about bugs.

These “gems” are microscopically enlarged pieces of sand from Point Spencer, Alaska. As this Atlas Obscura article explains, the sand of this long, narrow spit in the Bering Sea is made up of a variety of minerals, including olivine and quartz. Point Spencer was once at the heart of Beringia, the land bridge that formerly linked Asia and North America.

And the bugs, you ask? This piece in The Guardian describes a high, narrow pass in the Pyrenees Mountains, between France and Spain. Each year, more than 17 million tiny insects migrate through this cleft in the mountains, which is about 30 yards (or meters) wide. Researchers say their flight looks like a flying carpet and gives off a low, penetrating hum. They hope that studying the phenomenon will help bring attention to the plight of insects, which are suffering alarming population crashes around the world. And as the insects go, so goes the rest of life on this planet. We all need that flying carpet.