Carbon is a girl’s best friend

Since I’ve already missed most of April, which is National Poetry month and is traditionally linked to diamonds for birthstones, have a diamante poem about diamonds!

diamond

brilliant, hard

sparkling, cutting, shining

crystal lattice stabilizing into planes

expressing, lubricating, illustrating

metallic, soft

graphite

Carbon is a girl’s best friend.

Diamonds are crystals of carbon.

Carbon atoms have four unpaired electrons. Diamonds form when each of those pair off with electrons from other carbon atoms. This series of solid connections is what gives diamonds their famous strength. It also is what makes them surprisingly light.

*Trigger warning, diamond fans skip this bit*

It wasn’t until scientists started investigating what happens to diamonds when you heat them that their connection to graphite and coal was revealed. Antoine Lavoisier discovered in 1772 that diamonds burn when they get red hot, and stranger still, appeared to leave nothing behind. Just vanish. Similar, or even higher, temperatures left rubies and sapphires unchanged.

Lavoisier’s next step was to heat a diamond in a vacuum, thinking it might raise the temperature a diamond could survive. Instead, he found that heating a diamond to red heat in a vacuum produced pure graphite.

Which of course lead to scientists trying to figure out how to turn graphite into diamond. This did not go as well as hoped.

Why not?

Matter tends to go from less to more stable structures. Despite the fact that from our usual point of view graphite is erasable, on the molecular level graphite is more stable than diamond. So diamonds will slowly (billions and billions of years slowly) degrade into graphite.

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