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Carbon as an element was discovered by the first person to handle charcoal from fire.
Thus, together with sulfur, iron, tin, lead, copper, mercury, silver, and gold, carbon was one of the small group of elements well known in the ancient world.
In 1961 the isotope On a weight basis, carbon is 19th in order of elemental abundance in Earth’s crust, and there are estimated to be 3.5 times as many carbon atoms as silicon atoms in the universe.
Only hydrogen, helium, oxygen, neon, and nitrogen are atomically more abundant in the cosmos than carbon.
Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!Because it conducts electricity but does not melt, graphite is also used for electrodes in electric furnaces and dry cells as well as for making crucibles in which metals are melted.