Exploratorium home Exploratorium home Explo.tv
Browse programs by:
Emerging from inside of stars, carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, and the basis for all life on Earth. Polyamorous, it loves to bond, exchanging four of its electrons with atoms of itself and other elements to create an endless variety of chemistry, from DNA chains to soccer-ball shaped fullerenes to atom-thick sheets of graphene. As diamond, carbon is hard and abrasive, as graphite, soft. When its bonds are broken, carbon readily moves from one partner to the next, cycling between oceans, atmosphere, flora, fauna, soil, rocks, and fossil deposits deep below ground.

In the summer of 2008, the only helicopter in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, was effectively grounded by a diamond company, leaving scientists and logistics coordinators to frantically rearrange their field plans.