Posted in Science

What Makes Carbon So Special?

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All atoms are made up of the same basic building blocks. They have a nucleus that is filled with protons and neutrons and that nucleus is surrounded by electrons.  Carbon is the 6th element on the periodic table and is the basic building block of life. Why?

Well, there are a few reasons. The first reason that carbon has the unique ability to form stable bonds with a large variety of other elements, including itself. Carbon can form four covalent bonds (single, double, or triple) and in different geometries.

A covalent bond is a bond that is formed when atoms share electrons. These bonds tend to be very stable.

Since carbon has this versatility it can form a variety of complex molecules. These can be sorted into four different groups:

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Lipids
  3. Proteins
  4. Nucleic Acids

These four groups are essential to life. The chart below explains each type.

Type of Compound Examples Elements Functions Monomer
Carbohydrates sugars, starches carbon, hydrogen, oxygen provides energy to cells, stores energy, forms body structures monosaccharide
Lipids fats, oils carbon, hydrogen, oxygen stores energy, forms cell membranes, carries messages
Proteins enzymes, antibodies carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur helps cells keep their shape, makes up muscles, speeds up chemical reactions, carries messages and materials amino acid
Nucleic Acids DNA, RNA carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus contains instructions for proteins, passes instructions from parents to offspring, helps make proteins nucleotide

So carbon is unique because of a few reasons:

  1. All living things have carbon in them in one form or another.
  2. Carbon has a unique structure that allows it to form four stable bonds
  3. Carbon makes up the molecules that are essential to life

I hope this has helped shed some light on what makes carbon so special. As always, please feel free to ask questions.

Heart you!

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Why Hello There!

Why hello there! I guess I should start by introducing myself. My name is Mary. I have a huge passion for learning new things and for exploring the world around us. I decided to start this blog because I wanted a way to share what I have learned and to be able to help others learn new things as well.

I am by NO MEANS an expert in anything. My education ends at a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. My posts will be about topics that I will have made sure to fully research before hand and I will always share my sources.

Please feel free to ask me questions or to add on to any of my posts. Discussions are one of the best was to really gain an understanding of a topic from a variety of different view points.

This blog is going to essentially be about everything and anything and I will be posting at least twice a month.