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Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon used by archaeologists to date objects and remains.Carbon-14 is naturally occurring in the atmosphere.In older stars that have burned most of their hydrogen, leftover helium accumulates.Each helium nucleus has two protons and two neutrons.And it uses them: Nearly 10 million carbon compounds have been discovered, and scientists estimate that carbon is the keystone for 95 percent of known compounds, according to the website Chemistry Explained.Carbon's incredible ability to bond with many other elements is a major reason that it is crucial to almost all life. The element was known to prehistoric humans in the form of charcoal.
When atoms bond, they share electrons in their outermost shell.
Arrange carbon atoms in one way, and they become soft, pliable graphite. — the atoms form diamond, one of the hardest materials in the world.
Carbon is also the key ingredient for most life on Earth; the pigment that made the first tattoos; and the basis for technological marvels such as graphene, which is a material stronger than steel and more flexible than rubber.
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.
The research team named their discovery the buckminsterfullerene after an architect who designed geodesic domes.