Carbon atoms can form exactly four bonds. At least that’s what the chemistry books tell us. This is a law that is carved in stone — supposedly. I say that because we’ve found an exception to the rule. My doctoral thesis supervisor, Professor Konrad Seppelt, and I have isolated a molecule in which a carbon atom is surrounded by no less than six bond partners. It’s called the hexamethylbenzene dication. This may sound very theoretical to a layperson, but for real scientists a discovery like this one is almost like the Holy Grail. Why? Because it expands our knowledge about the world and helps us understand it a bit better. That’s what basic research is all about. Because this special molecule is very unstable, it will never find any applications. Nonetheless, it enlarges our understanding of the chemical bonding behavior of the element carbon. I’m a specialist in inorganic chemistry, so it was a coincidence that I happened to investigate the bonds between carbon atoms.