In the cavernous interior of the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, there are ranks of gambling machines lined up like gaudy soldiers on parade, each one to a common design, though subtly different. They invite you to make a close inspection.
Carbon lies at the centre of life, its ubiquitous and indispensable ingredient. Carbon atoms link together in chains, and bind with other atoms, to make the whole array of organic chemicals that constitute life itself, from DNA to toenails.
The Earth was born from debris that circled the nascent Sun. It was a planet spun from dust and rock, and one of the smaller masses that were trapped in the thrall of the Sun's attraction.