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Hydrogen Helium Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen


6. Carbon - Origin : The name comes from the Latin ‘carbo’, which means charcoal.

Carbon Symbol.JPG (14724 bytes)

Carbon is an element of prehistoric discovery which is very widely distributed in nature. It is found in abundance in the sun, stars, comets, and atmospheres of most planets.

Carbon is found free in nature in three allotropic forms: amorphous, graphite, and diamond. Graphite is one of the softest known materials while diamond is one of the hardest. Carbon, as microscopic diamonds, is found in some meteorites. The energy of the sun and stars can be attributed at least in part to the well-known carbon-nitrogen cycle.

Common Uses

Carbon is the basis of all life since it is part of DNA. The human body contains about 16 kilograms of carbon in one form or another. Carbon is also important environmentally as carbon dioxide; it makes up 350 parts per million of the atmosphere, and plants take it in as they grow. Carbon dioxide is also the gas formed when natural gas, oil and coal are burned.

Coal, petroleum, and natural gas are chiefly hydrocarbons.

Facts about Carbon

Carbon is unique among the elements in the vast number and variety of compounds it can form.

Without carbon, the basis for life would be impossible.

Carbon is present as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and dissolved in all natural waters.

How Carbon Measures up

Atomic Number: 56   Atomic Radius: 77pm
Atomic Symbol: C   Melting Point: 3550ºC
Atomic Weight: 12.011   Boiling Point: 3800ºC


Questions about Carbon

Question 1: State whether the following statement is True or False:

"Carbon can only be compounded with a few other elements."

If this is true, what are they?

Question 2: How is Carbon Dioxide associated with plant life?

Question 3: Which of the following is true?

(a) With carbon, the basis of life would be impossible

(b) Carbon melts at a lower temperature than it boils

(c) Carbon dioxide is not created by the burning of coal

(d) Carbon's atomic symbol is Ca