What carbon dating

Plants take it up in respiration, in which they convert sugars made during photosynthesis back into energy that they use to grow and maintain other processes, according to Colorado State University.Animals incorporate carbon-14 into their bodies by eating plants or other plant-eating animals.Carbon chemistry is still hot enough to capture Nobel Prizes: In 2010, researchers from Japan and the United States won one for figuring out how to link carbon atoms together using palladium atoms, a method that enables the manufacture of large, complex carbon molecules, according to the Nobel Foundation.Scientists and engineers are working with these carbon nanomaterials to build materials straight out of science-fiction.While scientists sometimes conceptualize electrons spinning around an atom's nucleus in a defined shell, they actually fly around the nucleus at various distances; this view of the carbon atom can be seen here in two electron cloud figures (bottom), showing the electrons in a single blob (the so-called s-orbital) and in a two-lobed blob or cloud (the p-orbital). It can link to itself, forming long, resilient chains called polymers.It can also bond with up to four other atoms because of its electron arrangement.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.

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-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years, meaning that after that time, half of the carbon-14 in a sample decays away, according to the University of Arizona.Because organisms stop taking in carbon-14 after death, scientists can use carbon-14's half-life as a sort of clock to measure how long it has been since the organism died.In older stars that have burned most of their hydrogen, leftover helium accumulates.Each helium nucleus has two protons and two neutrons.

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