6 Carbon (C) Facts

Carbon Allotrope DiamondCarbon, one of the oldest known elements is hot on the mind of most everyone in today's environmentally aware culture. Carbon is everywhere, the air you breathe, the jewellery you wear, even the pencil you use to write down your grocery list. Even though we have known about carbon for millennia, new uses are still being explored today. Here are a few interesting facts that you might not have known.

1. Carbon, whose atomic number is 6, is a nonmetalic , tetravalent chemical element with three naturally occuring isotopes, 12C, 13C and the radioactive 14C, whose half-life is about 5700 years.

2. Carbon has been known to man since the age of antiquity, since approximately 3750 BC. Carbon was first used by the Egyptians and the Sumerians for reducing copper, zinc, and tin ores in the manufacture of bronze.

3. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen, helium and oxygen, is the second most abundant element in the human body, and is present in all known life forms making carbon the basis of all life on Earth.

4. Carbon has many different and diverse forms of allotropes including diamond and graphite. Diamond being the strongest of all naturally formed minerals and graphite being soft enough to make a mark on paper.

5. Another allotrope of Carbon is Buckminsterfullerenes, which includes the Carbon Nanotube. Carbon nanotubes have a tested tensile strength 8 times greater than steel. This strength, paired with its tiny size, make carbon nanotubes the future for things like bridges, artificial muscles, computer circuits and even make structures like the Space Elevator possible.

6. Carbon has the highest melting and sublimation points of all the elements of about 5800 degrees Kelvin.