Carbon

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Carbon (from Latin: carbo "coal") is a chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. Three isotopes occur naturally, 12C and 13C being stable while 14C is a radioactive isotope, decaying with a half-life of about 5,730 years. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity. Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earths crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. Carbons abundance, its unique diversity of organic compounds, and its unusual ability to form polymers at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth enables this element to serve as a common element of all known life. It is the second most abundant element in the human body by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen. The atoms of carbon can be bonded together in different ways, termed allotropes of carbon. The best known are graphite, diamond, and amorphous carbon. The physical properties of carbon vary widely with the allotropic form. For example, graphite is opaque and black while diamond is highly transparent. Graphite is soft enough to form a streak on paper (hence its name, from the Greek verb "???fe??" which means "to write"), while diamond is the hardest naturally occurring material known. Graphite is a good electrical conductor while diamond has a low electrical conductivity. Under normal conditions, diamond, carbon nanotubes, and graphene have the highest thermal conductivities of all known materials. All carbon allotropes are solids under normal conditions, with graphite being the most thermodynamically stable form. They are chemically resistant and require high temperature to react even with oxygen.

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