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10 Carbon Facts

Carbon - The Chemical Basis for Life

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Diamond is crystalline carbon.

Diamond is crystalline carbon.

Salexmccoy, Wikipedia Commons Photograph of graphite, one of the forms of elemental carbon.

Photograph of graphite, one of the forms of elemental carbon.

U.S. Geological Survey
  1. Carbon is the basis for organic chemistry, as it occurs in all living organisms.

     

  2. Carbon is a nonmetal that can bond with itself and many other chemical elements, forming nearly ten million compounds.

     

  3. Elemental carbon can take the form of one of the hardest substances (diamond) or one of the softest (graphite).

     

  4. Carbon is made in the interiors of stars, though it was not produced in the Big Bang.

     

  5. Carbon compounds have limitless uses. In its elemental form, diamond is a gemstone and used for drilling/cutting; graphite is used in pencils, as a lubricant, and to protect against rust; while charcoal is used to remove toxins, tastes, and odors. The isotope Carbon-14 is used in radiocarbon dating.

     

  6. Carbon has the highest melting/sublimation point of the elements. The melting point of diamond is ~3550°C, with the sublimation point of carbon around 3800°C.

     

  7. Pure carbon exists free in nature and has been known since prehistoric time.

     

  8. The origin of the name 'carbon' comes from the Latin word carbo, for charcoal. The German and French words for charoal are similar.

     

  9. Pure carbon is considered non-toxic, although inhalation of fine particles, such as soot, can damage lung tissue.

     

  10. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe (hydrogen, helium, and oxygen are found in higher amounts, by mass).

     

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