What Is the Relationship Between Carbon & Life on Earth?

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Carbon is one of the key components to all natural biological life on the Earth, and there are many reasons for this. Find out about the relationship between carbon and life on Earth with help from an experienced science professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: The Marvels of Cells & DNA
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Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Michael Maidaa, and this is, “What Is the Relationship Between Carbon and Life on Earth?” Carbon is one of the key components to all natural biological life on the Earth, and there are many reasons for this. Almost all complex molecules are made by carbon attached to some other element – for example, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids, all essential to life. So, what are some characteristics of carbon that make it so unique? First, it has four valence electrons, meaning that carbon can bind to four different elements. Also, the energy required to make and break these bonds is at a perfect level so that it can be stable, but still reactive. Secondly, carbon is very abundant and lightweight, making it perfect for almost all complex molecules. And lastly, carbon is very good at binding to itself. So, for example, I’ll just draw a little molecule with carbon attached to another carbon. Now, we can attach three different molecules to each carbon. And, this is just one of the smaller molecules. We could continue adding more and more carbons to make more complex molecules. So, to recap: here, we have carbon, which has four valence electrons, it’s abundant and lightweight, and it’s really good at binding to itself. I’m Michael Maidaa, and this has been, “Is carbon essential to life on Earth?”

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