Carbon is an element with the symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. It was recognized as an element in the second half of the 18th century by the French chemist Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier. Carbon is a critical element because it can form many different bonds and compounds. It's the basis element for all life on earth, making up about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust.
Arrange the atoms in a network of hexagonal sheets at low pressure and temperatures, and boom! - you have soft, pliable graphite that feels slippery.
Change up the atoms into a three-dimensional framework under extreme pressures and temperatures, and voila! – you have a diamond.
Need energy? Carbon also occurs naturally has a sedimentary rock we refer to as coal. We burn coal in coal-fired power plants. Although coal is not the cleanest form of energy, less technologically advanced societies use it to create energy because it's cheap to acquire.
Carbon is life.
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