Carbon dating industrial revolution
Carbon also occurs in a form, discovered only recently, known as fullerenes or buckyballs.
Buckyball carbon holds the promise for opening a whole new field of chemistry (see accompanying sidebar).
It is not unusual for two atoms of an element to combine with each other. Carbon has the ability to make virtually endless strings of atoms. There is almost no limit to the size and shape of molecules that can be made with carbon atoms.
If one could look at a molecule of almost any plastic, for example, a long chain of carbon atoms attached to each other (and to other atoms as well) would be evident. (See accompanying diagrams.) Buckyballs are a recently discovered form of pure carbon.
When oil burns, carbon is released in the reaction, forming a sooty covering on the inside of the lamp. Lampblack was also often mixed with olive oil or balsam gum to make ink.
Among the non-crystalline allotropes of carbon are coal, lampblack, charcoal, carbon black, and coke. Coke is nearly pure carbon formed when coal is heated in the absence of air.
One of the most common forms of carbon is charcoal.
Charcoal is made by heating wood in the absence of air so it does not catch fire.
The main difference among these materials, he said, was the presence of a "black combustible material" that he knew was present in charcoal.
Carbon was officially classified as an element near the end of the eighteenth century.