Tag Archive: Carbon

Feb 27 2013

A Dispatch From The Committee To End The Future

Greetings fellow inhabitants of Earth.  We, the Committee to End the Future, a purposely shadowy global organization of extremely wealthy and powerful people wish to thank you for your cooperation in completing the final round of our “Great Game.”

For centuries we have played a series of rounds of the “Great Game,” accumulating resources by dominating governmental and economic structures, subjecting citizens of the various countries of Earth to a variety of schemes to divert the products and value of their labors to our use and to pauperize those not of our sort.

To cut to the chase, though, the reason for this communication is to warn our fellow inhabitants away from a very dangerous movement that could potentially disrupt our game and cause something of an annoying reset just as we are getting close to declaring a winner.  We have discovered to our dismay that a small but noisy group of citizen activists wish to rein in the emission of carbon and methane which are essential to both our economy and completion of the Game.

If these noisy, misguided activists are successful, we shall have to write off many Trillions of dollars worth of energy assets that are important as game pieces as well as means of game completion.

We hope that we can count on you, our fellow inhabitants to continue your demand for carbon and methane emitting energy sources which are essential, let us not forget, to your personal comfort and ease of living.  No matter what these activists say or do, please continue to ignore them.  Continue to listen to the politicians that we support and their long-term, incremental plans that will bring down carbon emissions so gradually that you will never notice it.

We are now very close to the end of the Game.  No game is complete without an end state.  In short, we need to know who the winners are.  At the end of this round of the Great Game we shall finally know, and in the tradition of the Egyptian Pharoahs that buried their fellow players alive at the end of their games, so shall we.  We believe that our fellow inhabitants will enjoy a final rest from the great toils required of all those who play the Game.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Aug 06 2012

Pique the Geek 20120805: Yet More Carbon

Last time we finished our discussion of diamond, and now we move to what is pretty incorrectly called amorphous carbon.  Truly amorphous materials. like glass, have no true crystal structure (although there may be some local microstructures) that repeats regularly.

When used in the sense of carbon, only recently produced thin films of carbon are truly amorphous.  These are of research interest for the most part, although I would be quite surprised if practical uses are not found for them before long.

We shall discuss forms of carbon traditionally called amorphous even though they are not truly amorphous.  These include some of the most commonly encountered forms of carbon, and almost everyone has seen and touched at least a few examples.

Jul 30 2012

Pique the Geek 20120729: Carbon Copy

Last time we started talking about the allotropes of carbon, finished graphite and began with diamond.  Tonight we shall continue the diamond saga and maybe move to a third common allotrope.

Last week I was having some connectivity problems and, quite frankly, was ill with a bad cold, so I just did not feel much like writing.  I am better (much) this week and my computer seems to be functioning within design parameters.

Since the part that I wrote about diamond was so short last time, I shall paraphrase it as the start of this piece.  That way you do not have to hit the link to get up to speed.

Jul 23 2012

Pique the Geek 20120722: More on Carbon

Last time we started our series on carbon, and I now expect it to run for four installments.  Amongst many other properties, carbon is unique in having more allotropic forms than any other element.  Also known as allotropes, these are pure elements with radically different properties.  The term is reserved only for elements, the term for compounds being polymorphs.  An allotrope is a subset of a polymorph.

There is also another distinction:  for an element to have an allotrope, it must exist in the same phase.  Thus, solid lead and molten lead (and lead vapor) are not allotropes, but rather different phases of a given element.

Before we concentrate on carbon, let us consider oxygen.  In the gaseous phase, it has two allotropes, O2, normal molecular oxygen, and O3, also called ozone.  For an element as reactive as oxygen, normal molecular oxygen is remarkably nonreactive (wait a few weeks), but ozone is extremely reactive.  But both are just composed of oxygen atoms.

Jul 16 2012

Pique the Geek 20120715: Carbon, the Stuff of Life Part I

There are only a handful of elements that are absolutely essential to all known lifeforms, and carbon is easily the most important.  Certainly hydrogen and oxygen in the form of water and other compounds are also essential, but without carbon there simply would not be life as we know it.  There are many reasons for that, but that discussion is not for tonight.

This time we shall start at the basics and next time we shall work our way into more complex topics.  Since carbon is so essential and important, this will be a multipart series.  I expect three or so, but that depends on how motivated I am to root around for things that will be interested.

Unlike beryllium and boron, carbon, at least 12C, is more common than it should be.  The reason is fascinating, and we shall talk about that tonight.

Apr 11 2011

Pique the Geek 20110410: Carbon, the Basis of Life

We hear a lot about carbon these days as a greenhouse gas, sort of giving carbon a bad name.  While I agree that excessive carbon dioxide emissions from the wanton burning of fossil fuels is a  bad thing, it is not the fault of the carbon, but rather the fault of civilization for being unwise in how fossil carbon deposits are used.

As a matter of fact, without some carbon dioxide release, we would all starve because atmospheric carbon dioxide is the sole source of carbon in the food chain, thanks to the photosynthetic ability of green plants.  But this topic has been discussed in many places, sometimes in this regular series.  We shall discuss other properties of carbon and why it is essential to life as we understand life, and perhaps all life yet undiscovered.