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Carbon normally occurs as Carbon-12, but radioactive Carbon-14 may sometimes be formed in the outer atmosphere as Nitrogen-14 undergoes cosmic ray bombardment.The resulting C-14 is unstable and decays back to N-14 with a measured half-life of approximately 5,730 years.They are chemically resistant and require high temperature to react even with oxygen.The most common oxidation state of carbon in inorganic compounds is 4, while 2 is found in carbon monoxide and transition metal carbonyl complexes.It is only useful for once-living things which still contain carbon, like flesh or bone or wood.Rocks and fossils, consisting only of inorganic minerals, cannot be dated by this scheme.The largest sources of inorganic carbon are limestones, dolomites and carbon dioxide, but significant quantities occur in organic deposits of coal, peat, oil, and methane clathrates.Carbon forms a vast number of compounds, more than any other element, with almost ten million compounds described to date, The allotropes of carbon include graphite, one of the softest known substances, and diamond, the hardest naturally occurring substance.

Graphite is a good electrical conductor while diamond has a low electrical conductivity.

Thus the earth's atmosphere couldn't be any older than this.

Efforts to salvage carbon dating are many and varied, with calibration curves attempting to bring the C-14 "dates" in line with historical dates, but these produce predictably unreliable results.

Graphite is much more reactive than diamond at standard conditions, despite being more thermodynamically stable, as its delocalised pi system is much more vulnerable to attack.

For example, graphite can be oxidised by hot concentrated nitric acid at standard conditions to mellitic acid, C Carbon sublimes in a carbon arc, which has a temperature of about 5800 K (5,530 °C or 9,980 °F).

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The changing ratio of C-12 to C-14 indicates the length of time since the tree stopped absorbing carbon, i.e., the time of its death.

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