There's a material that's harder than diamonds. Scientists have discovered it.

Carbon.

Photo by p.Gordon/Flickr.


The Hoagy Carmichael of elements.

No Gershwin or Mercer, but did you know he wrote "Heart and Soul"? Photo by NBC Television/Wikimedia Commons.

Not as essential as oxygen.

Breathe, dammit, breathe! Enjoy. That. Crisp. Fall. Day. To. Its. Fullest. Photo via iStock.

Not as flashy as hydrogen.

Oooooh, the humanity! Photo by Gus Pasquarella/Wikimedia Commons.

Carbon just kinda ... is.

And for billions of years, it came in just two pretty boring solid forms.

Graphite is one form.

Take out your No. 2 pencils, kids. Are you feeling the thrill yet? Photo by Juliancolton/Wikimedia Commons.

Diamonds are the other.

Super exciting! But also, a little basic. Photo by Simon Depolo/Flickr.

But turns out, there's a third solid form of carbon.

And a group of scientists at North Carolina State University recently whipped up the first batch of it in all of history.

It's called Q-carbon, and unlike your average workaday carbon, it's kind of exciting.

Microdiamonds created from Q-carbon. Photo by North Carolina State University.

Not only is it rare — while it theoretically could exist in nature, thus far there's no proof that it does. According to the study's lead author Jay Narayan, "The only place it may be found in the natural world would be possibly in the core of some planets."

Why is it exciting?

Until this, diamond was the hardest natural material known to man.

According to the researchers, Q-carbon is even harder than diamond. It also emits electrons like whoa, which makes it uniquely suited for use in developing cutting-edge TV screens and tablet and smartphone displays — perhaps even making your phone so internally resilient that, should you drop it off a grain silo...

...you can feel secure enough that it didn't break that you won't plunge to your death after it.

It can also be used to create diamonds at room temperature.

Most of the current processes for creating synthetic diamonds require extremely high heat. The most popular ones certainly do. The NC State University researchers were able to develop diamond structures within Q-carbon in a process akin to laser eye surgery — all at a normal human temperature and pressure.

Not exactly like this. But, you know. This general ... idea. Photo via the Smithsonian Archives.

The researchers suggest that creating diamond objects this way could have huge medical benefits — making delivering drugs in the human body easier — and aid in certain industrial processes.

While there's no word yet on whether commercial diamonds could be created this way too, any diamond acquisition process that involves not digging them out of the Earth is a good thing.

It's a hugely cool development, and the scientists deserve a big hats off.

But perhaps, most importantly...

Good job, carbon.

And "Georgia on my Mind." Are you kidding me?

You're finally getting your due.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.