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Carbon (from Latin: carbo "coal") is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.
As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds.
There are three naturally occurring isotopes, with 12C and 13C being stable, while 14C is radioactive, decaying with a half-life of about 5,730 years.
Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen.
Carbon is present in all known life forms, and in the human body carbon is the second most abundant element by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen.
make this element the chemical basis of all known life.
- unique diversity of organic compounds and their
- unusual polymer-forming ability at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth,
The different forms or allotropes of carbon include the hardest naturally occurring substance, diamond, and also one of the softest known substances, graphite.
- an affinity for bonding with other small atoms, including other carbon atoms,
- and is capable of forming multiple stable covalent bonds with such atoms.
As a result, carbon is known to form almost ten million different compounds; the large majority of all chemical compounds.
Carbon also has the highest sublimation point of all elements. At atmospheric pressure it has no melting point as its triple point is at 10.8 ± 0.2 MPa and 4,600 ± 300 K (~4,330 °C or 7,820 °F), so it sublimates at about 3,900 K.
Carbon sublimes in a carbon arc which has a temperature of about 5,800 K (5,530 °C; 9,980 °F). Thus, irrespective of its allotropic form, carbon remains solid at higher temperatures than the highest melting point metals such as tungsten or rhenium.
Carbon combines with some metals at high temperatures to form metallic carbides, such as the iron carbide cementite in steel, and tungsten carbide, widely used as an abrasive and for making hard tips for cutting tools. As of 2009, graphene appears to be the strongest material ever tested.
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Amazing and important stuff this carbon, isn't it!
For a non-professional like me the chemistry of carbon looks overwhelmingly complex and I have understood that studying Organic Chemistry is not among the easiest choices a student can make when entering a college or university.