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Thread: Why do we need Carbon?

  1. #1 Why do we need Carbon? 
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    Hi Guys,

    I'm doing a science project and would like a little help.

    Why do we need carbon to live?

    IS there a specific answer to this? Comments about why we do?

    Any suggestions would be great.

    Thanks!!


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  3. #2  
    Forum Bachelors Degree The P-manator's Avatar
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    Well you must know the three elements of life: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.


    Pierre

    Fight for our environment and our habitat at www.wearesmartpeople.com.
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  4. #3  
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    Also we need Carbon……………. For golf club shafts :wink: :wink:
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  5. #4 Re: Why do we need Carbon? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbondude
    Hi Guys,

    I'm doing a science project and would like a little help.

    Why do we need carbon to live?

    IS there a specific answer to this? Comments about why we do?

    Any suggestions would be great.

    Thanks!!
    You try to search with Google for carbon based life forms?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon-based
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  6. #5  
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    it's required for...carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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  7. #6  
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    Plus carbon is one of the only elements that can form long chained molecules vital for large proteins fats etc etc
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  8. #7  
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    Along with its good buddies oxygen and hydrogen, of course.
    Pierre

    Fight for our environment and our habitat at www.wearesmartpeople.com.
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  9. #8  
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    I know it was sci-fi but one film summed it up nicely by calling humans 'carbon units' - can't remember where, star trek pos?
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Die Fledermaus
    Also we need Carbon……………. For golf club shafts :wink: :wink:
    yes, we need it for that too.
    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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  11. #10  
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    We need carbon by default. There aren't any other elements that would be able to carry out the sort of complex chemistry that life requires.
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  12. #11  
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    We need carbon because it's the most stable element which can form lots of bonds, creating long chains......

    N we need to use it as pencil lead.... how can one live without a pencil....
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_PAst27
    We need carbon because it's the most stable element which can form lots of bonds, creating long chains......
    Actually carbon is great because it's stable but not too stable. Silicon can bond in all the same ways that carbon will, but many of the resulting materials are so innert that they'll more-or-less sit forever without undergoing any more chemical reactions. For life you need to be able to constantly make and break up molecules, and carbon can do both.
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  14. #13  
    Forum Sophomore Matt Lacey's Avatar
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    Yeah, pretty much - just look at the entire field of organic chemistry - pretty hard to find another element with such diverse chemistry.
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    nitrogen are also involved in many of our daily reactions, in and out of any organic matter... jus that we dun see long nitrogen chains..... Or are there???? :?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    I know it was sci-fi but one film summed it up nicely by calling humans 'carbon units' - can't remember where, star trek pos?
    "star trek the motion picture" the first movie about star trek.
    the quote you refer to was spoken by ilia.
    the carbon units were infestations of the creators home planet.
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  17. #16  
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    carbon fibre!!
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  18. #17  
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    Carbon is the only element that can do many bonds and multiple (single/double/triple) bonds.

    ex. Polymers, Polyester, alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, etc.
    "Understanding is better than memorizing."
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.J.
    Carbon is the only element that can do many bonds and multiple (single/double/triple) bonds.

    ex. Polymers, Polyester, alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, etc.
    Hardly! Transition metals can have up to nine bonds on a single atom, and can form quadruple bonds.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by A.J.
    Carbon is the only element that can do many bonds and multiple (single/double/triple) bonds.

    ex. Polymers, Polyester, alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, etc.
    Hardly! Transition metals can have up to nine bonds on a single atom, and can form quadruple bonds.
    Compared to transition metals and other metals, Carbon is NOT a metal. lol. That's one thing special about it. Also, can transition metals form many long complex bonds like Carbon? I dont think so. Can they bond to themselves like carbon? I dont think so.

    Carbon is the element that forms many different and complex compounds more than any other element.

    In my previous post, "can do many bonds" phrase is included and I emphasize on this. "and multiple bonds" phrase is added to satisfy its specialness.

    Thanks for the clarification, Scifor Refugee. But isn't carbon able to make more bond on itself with other atoms as it is able to become a hypervalent atom? "Hypervalence" allows an atom to form more bonds than before. It is due to the 'd' orbitals. (An example I know about hypervalency is Sulphur, which can have extra bond when necessary. SF6 is an example.)

    By my explanation, I understand that transition metals can form quadruple bond since they have the 'd' orbitals.
    "Understanding is better than memorizing."
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.J.
    Also, can transition metals form many long complex bonds like Carbon? I dont think so. Can they bond to themselves like carbon? I dont think so.
    Yes, transition metals can form multiple bonds and can bond to themselves. There's actually a lot more variety in bonding with transition metals because they can have up to nine bonds, unlike carbon which normally only has up to four bonds. Also you never see more than a tripple bond between two carbons, but with transition metals you can have up to four (or even five in the gas phase) between two metal atoms.
    But isn't carbon able to make more bond on itself with other atoms as it is able to become a hypervalent atom? "Hypervalence" allows an atom to form more bonds than before. It is due to the 'd' orbitals. (An example I know about hypervalency is Sulphur, which can have extra bond when necessary. SF6 is an example.)
    Unfortunately the whole "hypervalence" explanation in which d orbitals hybridize with s and p orbitals in mostly a myth. It's just something that they tell people in low-level chemistry classes because it seems to make sense.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by A.J.
    Also, can transition metals form many long complex bonds like Carbon? I dont think so. Can they bond to themselves like carbon? I dont think so.
    Yes, transition metals can form multiple bonds and can bond to themselves. There's actually a lot more variety in bonding with transition metals because they can have up to nine bonds, unlike carbon which normally only has up to four bonds. Also you never see more than a tripple bond between two carbons, but with transition metals you can have up to four (or even five in the gas phase) between two metal atoms.
    ok. but what I meant to ask is that can they do long bonds (or do they exist in long bonds like carbon)... ex. C-C-C-C-C-C-C... so on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Unfortunately the whole "hypervalence" explanation in which d orbitals hybridize with s and p orbitals in mostly a myth. It's just something that they tell people in low-level chemistry classes because it seems to make sense.
    I am shocked! Are you saying that what I learned in school are false?!?! Can you please give me a reference for your explanation? I want to challenge my professor if what you say is true.

    <I'm kind of confused because almost many books and internet sites explain that d orbitals hybridize with s and p orbitals. Well, all I know that it is not exactly true but it is ASSUMED that it is so (that is assume that the energy difference between the 3p and 3d levels is not very big). This is still in scientific dispute I believe. "It is what it is until it is proven it is not".
    "Understanding is better than memorizing."
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