The element carbon is a solid in its normal state, foregoing a liquid phase and sublimating from its solid phase directly into a gas at 6917 degrees Fahrenheit. Carbon's unique atomic structure readily forms exceptionally strong bonds with other atoms.
In its solid phase, carbon can occur in different forms, or allotropes. Graphite (one of the softest natural minerals) and diamond (one of the hardest) are both forms of pure carbon despite having very different properties. Carbon forms the base for all known life and a large number of other important compounds. Organic chemistry is the study of carbon-containing compounds.