Who Was the Person to Discover Carbon?

By Robin Higgins

The person to discover carbon isn't necessarily someone we know the name of. Find out about the person who discovered carbon with help from an experienced biology and chemistry professional in this free video clip.


Hi, I’m Robin Higgins, and this is, “Who Was the First Person to Discover Carbon?” Well, the answer is some random caveman or a cavewoman – no one can know for sure, because carbon is just naturally occurring, and it’s all around us, so...Charcoal is one of the first, like, substances that’s made of carbon that we’re aware of. And, actually, the name “carbon” comes from the Latin word for “burnt wood,” which is “carbo.” But, who defined it as an element, and who kind of really discovered it, well, that’s split between a few different people. So, Boyle, he defined what an element was. And so, people were calling it carbon and knew about carbon in different forms when Boyle defined what an element was. But, the next person took it over – Lavoisier, very French here – he decided and named carbon as an element. So, if Boyle hadn’t defined what an element was, Lavoisier never would have said that carbon was an element. So, they are around at the same time. And so, Lavoisier also discovered that diamonds were made of carbon. So, I would say give it to Lavoisier. And then, it’s also worth noting that a new form of carbon was discovered in 1985, and it’s called the Bucky Ball, and I’d highly recommend looking it up – it’s a very complex structure that forms into a sphere with a bunch of different sides on it. So, yeah. So, basically, you’ve got cavewomen, Boyle, Lavoisier, and then a few different research scientists discovered Bucky Ball in 1985. I’m Robin Higgins, and this is, “Who Was the Person That Discovered Carbon?”

About the Author

Robin Higgins graduated with a B.S in Chemistry from Emory University 2010, and has just recently received her M.S in Chemistry from the University of California Los Angeles.