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The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to each other.
More than ten million compounds of carbon are known.
Coal, soot, and diamonds are all nearly pure forms of carbon.
Carbon also occurs in a form, discovered only recently, known as fullerenes or buckyballs.
No other element, except for hydrogen, occurs in even a fraction of that number of compounds.
As an element, carbon occurs in a striking variety of forms.
Buckyball carbon holds the promise for opening a whole new field of chemistry (see accompanying sidebar).