Introducing Carbon - The chemistry of almost everything (27/31)

Uploaded by OUlearn on 03.09.2009

Of all the elements in the universe, there's one that plays a central role
in the creation of life.
These are all the elements that have been discovered so far.
And the element we're looking for?
Well, it can't be any of these.
These are the noble gases, they're chemical virgins.
And they hardly react with anything at all.
And that's hardly the basis for populating a planet, is it?
These metals, on the other hand, will react with almost anything,
so, out they go.
The same goes for these, the halogens.
So goodbye halogens.
Now this lot are rare.
Some of them are radioactive.
And a few exist for only seconds.
So they're no good.
The element we're after must be capable
of forming a wide variety of complex molecules
capable of carrying information.
And that rules out the transition elements
because, quite simply, they can't.
There really are only two elements capable of doing this,
carbon and silicon.
Now one of these can't form the variety of bonds necessary for life
but the other, well, it forms more compounds
than all of the other elements put together.
Ever heard of the expression 'carbon-based life form'?
Well, that's what we are.
A very big hand for our guest tonight, carbon.
In the chemistry of creation so vital to life, who else could we invite?
Outside your body, though,
you might have seen carbon going round in a number of curious guises -
as graphite
or diamond
and even common old soot.
Our magical friend forms compounds that are strong, flexible
and come in just about any shape you want to make,
from plastics to potions.
The list is virtually endless.
All because good old carbon likes so much to stick around
with his chums in long chains.
What a character.