Facts on carbon dating
Facts on carbon dating - updating satellite receiver firmware
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.
Perhaps one of the hottest areas in carbon research today, however, involves the "miracle material" graphene. It's the strongest material known while still being ultralight and flexible. Mass-producing graphene is a challenge, though researchers in April 2014 reported that they could make large amounts using nothing but a kitchen blender.
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.
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.
Buckyballs have been found to inhibit the spread of HIV, according to a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling; medical researchers are working to attach drugs, molecule-by-molecule, to buckyballs in order to deliver medicine directly to sites of infection or tumors in the body; this includes research by Columbia University, Rice University and others.
Since then, other new, pure carbon molecules — called fullerenes — have been discovered, including elliptical-shaped "buckyeggs" and carbon nanotubes with amazing conductive properties.
[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.
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.