Date and Time
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN
Carbon, like the other light elements, has a long history from very shortly after the Big Bang, 15,000 million years or so ago, down to the present. Its earthly history, of course, is only some 4600 million years; one short-lived form can be generated at any time in the atmosphere. Carbon can exist as a native element in at least three crystalline forms; in the gaseous state bound to oxygen or hydrogen it forms carbon dioxide or hydrocarbons e.g. methane respectively; linked with three oxygen atoms to form the carbonate ion it exists in aqueous solution or as carbonate minerals in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and as the external skeleton of many organisms; perhaps most importantly as carbon dioxide it is the raw material for photosynthesis and is the basis of all living matter. The talk will trace a partial history through time of a carbon atom as it passes between a variety of the above environments.
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