Bond it to oxygen and it’s the scourge of climate change. But earthly life wouldn’t be possible without carbon, and maybe that’s true for alien life, too.
And carbon has other exciting forms: tiny diamonds may be evidence of a catastrophic comet impact 13,000 years ago. And, chalky carbonates may point to a once-habitable Mars.
So get cozy with carbon. Find out if you could swap it for silicon in DNA. Plus, the conundrum of calculating a carbon footprint.