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a nonmetallic element found combined with other elements in all organic matter and in a pure state as diamond and graphite. Diamonds and graphite are pure forms, and carbon is a major part of coal, petroleum, and natural gas. The element carbon is also important, however, outside the chemistry of living things.

But in graphite, each carbon atom bonds only to three others in a much looser arrangement of layers, each of which is weakly bonded to neighboring layers.

In other words, we have a ‘clock’ which starts ticking at the moment something dies.

­ ­As soon as a living organism dies, it stops taking in new carbon.

, we find that this ration is the same if we sample a leaf from a tree, or a part of your body.

Think of it like a teaspoon of cocoa mixed into a cake dough—after a while, the ‘ratio’ of cocoa to flour particles would be roughly the same no matter which part of the cake you sampled.

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