Modern Marvels

Season 15 Episode 2


Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jan 14, 2008 on The History Channel
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Episode Summary

Carbon is the chemical basis of all known life and yet this simple element is also the foundation of modern technology. Carbon burns hotter, cuts deeper, insulates more thoroughly and absorbs more fully than any other material. See why carbon is the key both in heavy-duty industries, as well as in tools like the graphite pencil, the charcoal water filter, and the diamond saw blade.moreless
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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Astronomers have discovered a white dwarf star, known as BPM 37093, composed entirely of crystallized carbon diamond. With roughly the same mass as our sun, the stars forms a diamond of 10 billion trillion trillion carats.

    • Planting 300,000 new trees and allowing them a full life would offset the carbon dioxide emission of one 500 megawatt coal-fired power plant operating for little more than a week.

    • China, which has the world's largest graphite deposits, has become the world's most prolific pencil manufacturer, turning out about 9 billion pencils a year.

    • In the early 20th Century, coconut shells were the most common source of activated carbon, including use in gas masks. During World War II, Japanese control of the coconut supply in the Pacific forced American activated carbon makers to switch to coal.

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Narrator: Meet the hardest, strongest material known to man, but it's also one of the softest. It's clean, dirty, brilliant and black. It purifies air and water, it powers the world while altering the climate, it's the stuff of stars, it's you and me. Now, the untold story of Carbon, on Modern Marvels.

  • NOTES (0)