Graphite, an allotrope of carbon. (Credit: Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz/Shutterstock)
Carbon is, all things considered, pretty great. Its position on the periodic table of elements — which symbolizes the amount of spare electrons it has, more or less — allows it to form an incredible variety of molecules. This includes allotropes, the different forms an element can take on its own based on its structure. Diamond, coal and graphene are all just varieties of carbon.
But that’s not enough