Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks to Carbon

Since this is Thanksgiving week, I have decided to give thanks for a few of my favorite things. Today I give thanks to the element Carbon. After all it is what I am made of. Without it I wouldn't be here. In fact, all living things are made of it. Carbon is unique in that it can easily combine with so many other elements to make so many different and useful--that is, life sustaining--compounds.

It is true that Carbon can unite with oxygen to form the deadly gas Carbon Monoxide. But it redeems itself beautifully by also forming Carbon Dioxide which is a life giving food for all plants. It is an indispensable gas without which there would be no life on this earth. It can be said that we humans are this element's greatest achievement thanks to its magnum opus--the DNA molecule.

I personally can't do justice to this excellent element. But John Brignell at Number Watch has come pretty darn close with a superb essay titled "In Praise of Carbon" which I highly recommend. In fact, that essay inspired this little thank you note.
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