Paradox Lost pp 118-121 | Cite as

Carbon and the Structure of Organic Molecules

  • Philip R. Wallace


All life is based on carbon and organic chemistry, which alone makes carbon the most fascinating of all elements. The extraordinary symmetry of its wave functions are such that its atoms can be linked together to fill all of two-dimensional or three-dimensional space. Thus, it appears in nature in two crystalline forms —graphite and diamond. The former consists of layers of hexagonal grids, which are only weakly joined together, thus, its slipperiness, which makes it a good lubricant. Diamond fills all of space with a rigid framework, making it the hardest substance known. Quantum mechanical analysis of their energy level structures explains the blackness of graphite and the brilliance of diamond.


Methane Dioxide Graphite Benzene Hexagonal 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip R. Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.McGill UniversityVictoriaCanada

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