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    Sep 25

    untitled-96.jpgWhile diamonds are the hardest material in the world, graphite is one of the softest materials known to man; yet, both are pure carbon. The difference between diamonds and graphite is pressure.Pure carbon is a short-lived substance. If not pressurized, but clumped together, it will form graphite. If, however, that same clump of carbon is pressurized, it transforms into a diamond.

    Diamonds and graphite are on the opposite ends of the spectrum in many categories. As previously stated, diamonds are hard while graphite is soft. Additionally, the diamond is the ultimate abrasive while graphite is a fantastic lubricant.

    A diamond is an excellent electrical conductor while graphite is a good insulator. Diamonds conduct thermal energy better than any other substance while people often use graphite as an insulator in things such as firebreaks and heat shields.

    Diamonds are extremely transparent while graphite is opaque, sometimes to the point of being very black. When diamond crystallizes, it forms a cubic crystal system and when graphite crystallizes, it does so in a hexagonal system.

    Last, but not least, graphite is one of the least expensive and abundant materials you can find. As you might have guessed, diamonds are rare very expensive.

    Carbon, from which diamonds and graphite emerge, is the fourth most abundant element in the universe behind only hydrogen, helium and oxygen. In fact, the human body is a composition of mostly water mixed with carbon. However, even with all of this carbon in the universe, diamonds are rare in comparison to graphite.

    It might seem odd that two such disparate products as diamonds and graphite come from the exact same element, but obviously, pressure can have that much of an effect on elements. Because most carbon does not undergo such pressure, diamonds are scarce and expensive when compared to graphite, but you can find plenty of diamonds in the world, both large and small. In fact, more than likely, if you do not own a diamond now, the chances are that you have owned one at some time in your life, or certainly will in the future.

    The diamonds that are most rare for people to own are the perfect, large diamonds. While you might find plenty of microscopic diamonds formed by the intense pressure and high temperature at the sites of meteorite impacts, you will find fewer sources of larger diamonds on the earth.

    When looking for diamonds, people most often look in sites of ancient volcano “necks” or “pipes.” Most of these diamond deposits are in Africa. In Africa, you can find diamond mine deposits in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, the Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone.

    Besides Africa, natural diamond deposits are resident in Arkansas in the United States, in Canada, in the Russian Arctic, in Brazil and in Northern & Western Australia. Recently, people also began to mine diamonds from the ocean floor off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope.

    You can find carbon in the form of graphite all over the world. Large deposits of graphite exist in the United States in Texas and in New York as well as in Russia, Mexico, Greenland and India.

    While graphite is common and no one pays any particular attention to it, people throughout the ages have built up entire religious and superstitious stories around diamonds. Some of the supernatural powers attributed to diamonds are as follows:

    • A diamond gives victory to anyone who carries it bound on her or his left arm, no matter the number of enemies.
    • Panics, pestilences and enchantments, all fly before diamonds; hence, it is good for sleepwalkers and the insane to wear them.
    • They keep lodestone and magnets attracting iron.
    • Arabic diamonds attract iron greater than a magnet.
    • Smearing a diamond with fresh goat’s blood is the only thing that will break its hardness.
    • In traditional Hinduism, one should avoid contact with a diamond in which the surface area has damage such as a crack or a crowfoot. Additionally if it is round, dull, speckled area or black-blue or if flat, and if uncut, other than the (ideal) hexagonal shape you should avoid contact with it.

    While all of these instances are scientifically unfounded, many cultures believe that the supernatural powers of a diamond are far superior to scientific studies. No one has ever attributed one single supernatural power to graphite.
    When you consider that these precious gemstones called diamonds are the product of such a common element, it is amazing that it has all of the physical properties that make it one of the most valuable materials on earth. However, because scientists know how carbon is transformed from its original form to diamonds, they can duplicate the process and make diamonds that are every bit as much diamonds as natural diamonds are, only less valuable because of their lack of rarity.

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    2 Responses to “Carbon: Diamonds and Graphite”

    1. llyane Says:

      if both graphite and diamond are made of carbon, why does such a difference in properties exist?

    2. Halle Says:

      Very nice written. Thank you.
      Really there are lot of people like Graphite in the world and just some rare ones like Diamond! (who perhaps have got like diamond just by pressure!)

      Best,
      Halle (Halo_k25@yahoo.com)

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