What is carbon dating used for
By vaporizing graphite with lasers, the scientists created a mysterious new molecule made of pure carbon, according to the American Chemical Society.
This molecule turned out to be a soccer-ball-shaped sphere made of 60 carbon atoms.
Carbon as coal is still a major source of fuel worldwide, providing about 30 percent of energy worldwide, according to the World Coal Association.
Coal is also a key component in steel production, while graphite, another form of carbon, is a common industrial lubricant.
[See Periodic Table of the Elements] Carbon occurs naturally as carbon-12, which makes up almost 99 percent of the carbon in the universe; carbon-13, which makes up about 1 percent; and carbon-14, which makes up a minuscule amount of overall carbon but is very important in dating organic objects.
As the sixth-most abundant element in the universe, carbon forms in the belly of stars in a reaction called the triple-alpha process, according to the Swinburne Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.
Carbon has two electron shells, with the first holding two electrons and the second holding four out of a possible eight spaces.
When atoms bond, they share electrons in their outermost shell.
Carbon-14 is naturally occurring in the atmosphere.
Under very hot temperatures — greater than 100,000,000 Kelvin (179,999,540.6 F) — the helium nuclei begin to fuse, first as pairs into unstable 4-proton beryllium nuclei, and eventually, as enough beryllium nuclei blink into existence, into a beryllium plus a helium.
The end result: Atoms with six protons and six neutrons — carbon.
This method works on once-living organisms, including objects made of wood or other plant material.
Carbon is a long-studied element, but that doesn't mean there isn't more to discover.