carbon

Related Terms
Element found in its purest form as graphite (the softest substance known) and diamond (the hardest substance known), combined with other elements as chalk and limestone in rocks, as carbon dioxide in atmosphere, and as hydrocarbons in asphalt, coal, natural gas, and petroleum. The chemistry of all living things is based on carbon and it is the essential component of all forms of life and all food. Its small atomic size and propensity for combining with other atoms in multiple bonds has yielded some ten million compounds. Added in specific amounts to iron it makes different types of steels, and is used in controlling the metal's hardness and strength.
Although it is the element consumed in the greatest quantity by the humans, carbon forms only 0.02 percent (by weight) of the earth's crust (that includes coal mines and oil/gas wells).


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