Carbon is unique among the elements in the vast number of variety of compounds it can form.
Organic chemistry, a 1/112th subset of inorganic chemistry, is the study of carbon and its compounds.
Scientists have grown a tree from what may be the oldest seed ever germinated.
The new sapling was sprouted from a 2,000-year-old date palm excavated in Masada, the site of a cliff-side fortress in Israel where ancient Jews are said to have killed themselves to avoid capture by Roman invaders.
Dubbed the "Methuselah Tree" after the oldest person in the Bible, the new plant has been growing steadily, and after 26 months, the tree was nearly four-feet (1.2 meters) tall.
This is most common at the bottom of oceans and seas where the lifeforms become buried by sand.
It occurs in more different forms than any other element in the periodic table.
The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to each other.
Carbon is present as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and dissolved in all natural waters.
It is a component of rocks as carbonates of calcium (limestone), magnesium, and iron.
"The Judean date was very valuable and very famous, not just as a source of food but as a source of medicine," Sallon said. The seeds were found in storage rooms, and appear to have been stockpiled for the Jews hiding out against the invading Romans.
"When I heard there were ancient seeds found in the archeological dig, I thought it would be interesting to see if we could try to grow them." Carbon dating of the seeds found at Masada revealed that they date from roughly the time of the ancient fortress' siege, in A. "They were buried under mounds of debris on the top of the archaeological site of Masada," Sallon told .
As an element, carbon occurs in a striking variety of forms.
Coal, soot, and diamonds are all nearly pure forms of carbon.
"The medicinal plants from this region are very important because they are historically mentioned in the Bible and the Koran," said Sarah Sallon, director of the Louis L.
Borick Natural Medicine Research Center at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, which initiated the experiment to grow the tree as part of its Middle East Medicinal Plant Project.