An enchanting biography of the most resonant-and most necessary-chemical element on Earth. Carbon. It's in the fibers in your hair, the timbers in your walls, the food that you eat, and the air that you breathe. It's worth billions as a luxury and half a trillion as a necessity, but there are still mysteries yet to be solved about the element that can be both diamond and coal. Where does it come from, what does it do, and why, above all, does life need it? With poetic storytelling, earth scientist Robert Hazen leads us on a global journey through the origin and evolution of life's most ubiquitous element. The story unfolds in four movements-Earth, Air, Fire, and Water-and transports us through 14 billion years of cosmic history. From the archives of Harvard to the cliffs of Scotland and into the precious metal mines of Namibia, Symphony in C is a sweeping chronicle of carbon: the most essential element on Earth.