Atomic number: 6
Year discovered: Known since ancient times although not recognized as an element until much later.
Discovered by: Unknown
- Most of the energy of our bodies, as well as that which drives our machines, is supplied by the oxidation of carbon and its compounds.
- Every form of animal and plant life requires carbon for survival.
- Plants obtain it from the carbon dioxide in the air, converting carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates in the process of photosynthesis.
- Animals consume the carbohydrates, returning carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by the processes of exhalation and excretion and the decomposition of their bodies under bacterial action after death.
- This endless chain linking animal and plant life is known as the carbon cycle.
- Three of the important forms of carbon are diamond, graphite, and black carbon.
- Diamond is the hardest substance found in nature, but in 1957, a new substance, borazon (cubic boron nitride), was synthesized.
- It is as hard as diamond and scratches it with ease.
- More than 1 000 000 compounds of carbon are believed to have been discovered; the exact number never has been determined.
- It is definitely known; however, that there are more compounds of carbon than of all other elements combined.
- Carbon as charcoal, soot, and coal has been used since prehistoric times.
Name in other languages:
Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.
A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.