In our previous article on carbon facts we learned about some of the most baffling facts about this incredible element that forms over 10 million compounds by combining with other elements in various combinations. However, that article was far from being complete. In this article titled random carbon facts, we are going to learn more about this particular element. Though we are naming this article as random carbon facts, it will actually contain a segment on its discovery as that was something we didn’t mention in our previous article on carbon facts. So, let’s begin…
Random Carbon Facts: 1-5 | History of Carbon Discovery
1. Carbon was already discovered during the ancient times in various forms such as soot, graphite, diamond etc. However, the ancients were not really aware of the fact that they were just different forms of the same element.
2. ‘Carbon’ – the name – was given to this element by a French scientist who was known as Antoine Lavoisier. He did not only name the element but was also responsible for carrying out various experiments with the element to find out more about its nature.
3. One of the most interesting experiments that Antoine performed was that of burning a diamond in year 1772! Yes, he actually didn’t have enough funds to buy a diamond. So, he talked with other scientists who agreed to contribute some money to buy a diamond.
4. Once the diamond was purchased, Antoine and all other scientists took it and placed the diamond inside a glass jar and covered it. They then took a large magnifying glass and used it to focus Sun rays on the diamond only to see it burn out and disappear.
5. However, when the diamond was burned out, Lavoisier didn’t really open up the jar. Instead he took the closed jar and measured its weight only to find that the weight of the jar was exactly the same as it was when the diamond was placed in the jar and the lid was closed.
Random Carbon Facts: 6-10 | History of Carbon Discovery
6. What really happened inside the closed jar was that the concentrated beam of Sun rays managed to burn the diamond (or pure carbon). The carbon combined with the oxygen that was already present in the jar to form carbon dioxide.
7. The aforementioned diamond experiment led Antoine Lavoisier to conclude that charcoal and diamond were essentially the same elements.
8. In 1779 came another scientist called Carl Scheele. He was from Sweden. Carl took graphite and burned it. He found that even when graphite burns it actually forms carbon dioxide. This led Scheele to conclude that even graphite was just another form of carbon.
9. Then came the English scientist known as Smithson Tennant. In 1796 Tennant proved that diamond was not a compound of carbon but was actually pure carbon and that diamond burned to form only and only carbon dioxide and nothing else.
10. Scheele even went further and proved that equal amount of carbon dioxide was formed when equal amounts of charcoal and diamonds were burned.
Random Carbon Facts: 11-15 | History or Carbon Discovery
11. Back in 1779, Swedish scientist Carl Scheele only concluded that graphite was a form of carbon. He couldn’t give any hard evidence. This evidence was given by Benjamin Brodie in 1855. He was an English chemist who used carbon to produce pure graphite. This was a conclusive proof that graphite was indeed another form of carbon.
12. By mid-19th century it was already know that graphite and diamond were just different forms of carbon and attempts were made to convert graphite into carbon. All those attempts were futile until in 1955, Francis Bundy and his coworkers achieve it.
13. They managed to demonstrate that under high pressure and high temperature, it is possible to convert graphite into diamond.
14. Another pure form of carbon known as fullerene was discovered in 1985 by three people – Richard Smalley, Harry Kroto and Robert Curl. In this form, the carbon balls are arranged in shape of soccer ball. Buckminsterfullerene is the most popular form of fullerene consisting of 60 carbon atoms arranged in the aforementioned shape. Buckminsterfullerene is also known as C60. There are many fullerenes starting from C20 and reaching all the way up to C540.
15. Graphene – an allotrope of carbon was discovered recently and its discovery was announced in 2004. Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov were the two people who discovered graphene by using an adhesive tape for detaching a single atoms’ layer from graphite. The thickness of graphene is just one atom.
Random Carbon Facts: 16-20 | Just Random Facts About Carbon
16. Carbon makes up 20% of the weight of all living organisms.
17. The numbers of compounds that do not have carbon are way fewer that the numbers of compounds containing carbon.
18. The tires of our vehicles are black because they contain 30% carbon black. It is this carbon black, which when added to the rubber, gives the characteristic black color to the tires.
19. The addition of carbon black to tires serves two purposes – strengthening the tries and protecting them from UV rays of the Sun.
20. All the carbon atoms present in human body were actually a part of the carbon dioxide fraction of our Earth’s atmosphere.
Random Carbon Facts: 21-25 | Just Random Facts About Carbon
21. We know that inside stars, helium is burned using fusion reaction. One of the byproducts of those reactions is carbon, which is produced in form of ‘ash’.
22. ‘Carbo’ – a Latin word is from where the name ‘carbon’ has been derived. Carbo actually means coal.
23. Earth’s crust and outer mantle (together known as the lithosphere) contains 0.032% carbon.
24. As for geologist David Smith from La Salle University, the weight of the lithosphere is 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (3 x 1023) pounds and hence, the approximate weight of carbon found in lithosphere is 10,560,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1.056 x 1022) pounds.
25. Heard about Ötzi – the Ice Mummy? If not, you can read about it here. A study was conducted on this 5,300-year-old corpse in year 2009. The findings of the study were published in Journal of Archeological Science. It was found that skin of the mummy had tattoos that were inked from carbon.
Random Carbon Facts: 26-30 | Just Random Facts About Carbon
26. Upon studying Ötzi – the Ice Mummy, it was found that small incisions were made on the person’s skin and charcoal was rubbed on it. Scientists say that it was perhaps a part of an acupuncture treatment.
27. It is hypothesized by many scientists that though carbon is produced inside the stars, it was not really an element that was produced during the Big Bang.
28. Of all elements known so far, carbon has the highest sublimation/melting point. Diamond melts at approximately 3,550°C whereas the sublimation point of carbon is at a whopping 3,800°C.
29. The largest gem-quality diamond that was ever found is known as the Cullinan diamond. It was found in year 1905. The uncut diamond was a whopping 3,106.75 carats and the largest gem that was cut out of it was 530.2 carats. This gem is known as the Great Star of Africa and is today one of the Crown Jewels of UK.
30. Living organisms are known for stopping carbon-14 (14C) intake. It is an isotope of carbon. Because of this reason, scientists can use the half-life of carbon-14 as a kind of a clock to find out how much time has elapsed since the organism died. This method only works on objects that were once alive and then died. For example, wood. The method is known as carbon dating.