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Thread: Why is there more carbon in organism's than in earth's crust?

  1. #1 Why is there more carbon in organism's than in earth's crust? 
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    I have no idea and would like to know for better understanding. Can anybody help explain?


    Last edited by ironfist; September 16th, 2012 at 04:01 PM.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Living things depend on, are based on, "organic" molecules - i.e. molecules based on carbon. This is mainly because of the incredible flexibility of carbon in forming different types of bonds and complex molecules.

    Ultimately, all of these complex organic molecules are created from carbon dioxide, water and sunlight, by plants.


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    What is a dioxide?

    How are organic molecules made from carbon dioxide, sunlight and water?

    What came first, the seed or the plant?
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    What is a dioxide?
    A molecule containing two oxygen atoms. In this case, carbon dioxide = CO2 = 1 carbon + 2 oxygen atoms.

    How are organic molecules made from carbon dioxide, sunlight and water?
    Short answer: photosynthesis. Long answer: ... probably a degree in biochemistry.

    What came first, the seed or the plant?
    Neither. They evolved.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    What came first, the seed or the plant?
    Neither. They evolved.
    Do explain please :-)
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    What came first, the seed or the plant?
    Neither. They evolved.
    Do explain please :-)
    I wasn't sure it was a serous question. As it seems to be ... Plants came first.

    This is not my area of expertise, but my understanding is that the first plants did not reproduce sexually (i.e. via seeds). Initially, reproduction may have been vegetative - the plant sends out a sucker that forms a new plant. Or a leaf or other part falls of and takes root like a cutting. Later specialized parts would have evolved specifically to fall off and form new plants (like the spores in ferns, for example). Later, seed bearing plants would have evolved. Even later, flowers and fruit.

    But this is huge area. And not one I know a lot about. Maybe someone with more expertise will be along. Or maybe you could find a good book on the evolution of plants.
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    Well very interesting...but how did the first plant come into being without a seed? and what evidence is there to suggest that early plants did not seed?

    Find a good book on the early evolution of plants? I doubt it somehow... maybe someone will come along who knows of one.
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    and what evidence is there to suggest that early plants did not seed?

    Plants of that type are still around us...the non vascular in the form of mosses and the vascular seedless types such as ferns and horsetails. Those types of plants are among the earlier organism to colonize land in the fossil record.
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    What came first, the seed or the plant?
    If you're really interested in this, I strongly recommend getting hold of Professor Iain Stewart's "How To Grow a Planet" series.

    The great advantage of his presentation is that he's a geologist not a biologist. So he looks at the role of living things rather than geological or tectonic or astronomical processes in the development of the earth's surface and atmosphere. The price for the DVDs on Amazon is pretty reasonable or I presume some libraries would have copies.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    but how did the first plant come into being without a seed?

    and what evidence is there to suggest that early plants did not seed?
    to the first, in all honestly the first plants did not use seeds to spread, they used spores, what are actually just dehydrated cells of the plant, and most types of sporulation are asexual, which is why i plant the difference between them. Before the they used spores plants were more like algae are in water, singlecelled, etc.

    on the second one, well, the reason i just gave you..
    The past teaches, the present watches and the future learns.

    Though religion is a concept that simply can not be ignored. The fact that a deity could stand idly by when one part of his creation slaughters another part, simply for his namesake, is a mystery i doubt theologist would dare touch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    Well very interesting...but how did the first plant come into being without a seed?
    The key thing that defines a plant is photosynthesis not seeds. This appears to have developed via symbiosis. The components in plant cells which perform photosynthesis (chloroplasts) have their own DNA distinct from the main cell nucleus. It seems likely that this was originally a photosynthetic bacteria which was "captured" by early plant cells.
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    Ironfist, not sure where you got that factoid, but there is much more Carbon in the Earth's crust than within living matter - Wikipedia puts the total within biomass, living and dead at 2,000 gigatonnes but within carbonate rocks there's in excess of 60,000,000 gigatonnes. Kerogens within sedimentary rocks give another 15,000,000 gigatonnes. The science paper wikipedia cites is behind a paywall, so I didn't manage to confirm it from the source. Elsewhere 9 x 10 to the 22nd grams (sorry, not sure how to type it in maths format) is cited which would be about 90,000,000 gigatonnes in the Earth's crust.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Good point Ken. I assumed Mr Fist was talking about relative proportions.

    Carbon is the 15th (I think) most common element in the Earth's crust (about 480 ppm) but is second most common in the human body (18%).

    But that is a useful clarification.
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    Second most common? I doubt, Hydrogen is most common, oxygen is then most common, and carbon is third most common.


    1 Hydrogen 10 7 63 Yes (e.g. water) 1
    8 Oxygen 65 43 24 Yes (water, electron acceptor) /No (Reactive Oxygen Species) 16
    6 Carbon 18 16 12 Yes (organic compounds are hydrocarbon derivatives) 14


    As you can see (sourced wiki Composition of the human body - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), but in mass your right. Although you were speaking of ppm, in that case you were wrong .
    The past teaches, the present watches and the future learns.

    Though religion is a concept that simply can not be ignored. The fact that a deity could stand idly by when one part of his creation slaughters another part, simply for his namesake, is a mystery i doubt theologist would dare touch.

    ~Zwolver...
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    I think the OPs question has been answered. (Let us know if it hasn't.) The Big Fact that it is an example of is that on an active planet like the Earth everything can be thought of as being about the redistribution of the elements.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    What came first, the seed or the plant?
    If you're really interested in this, I strongly recommend getting hold of Professor Iain Stewart's "How To Grow a Planet" series.

    The great advantage of his presentation is that he's a geologist not a biologist. So he looks at the role of living things rather than geological or tectonic or astronomical processes in the development of the earth's surface and atmosphere. The price for the DVDs on Amazon is pretty reasonable or I presume some libraries would have copies.
    It’s £10 on Amazon, I suppose that is reasonable….but even morereasonable is £0 on YouTube (see links below)


    Episode 1
    BBC How To Grow A Planet, Life from Light - YouTube

    Episode 2 part 1 is the following link (the other parts are onthe side bar)
    BBC How to Grow a Planet, The Power of Flowers [1/4] - YouTube

    Episode 3 part 1 is the following link (the other parts are onthe side bar)
    How To Grow A Planet - The Challenger [1/4] - YouTube
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    Excellent. Thank you.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    I believe the meaning of the question is, and I could be wrong, "Why is carbon more concentrated in living organisms than it is in the Earth?" And the answer to this is that living things have extracted it. We take what we need and excrete what we don't.
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