The ratio of normal carbon (carbon-12) to carbon-14 in the air and in all living things at any given time is nearly constant.Maybe one in a trillion carbon atoms are carbon-14.The carbon-14 atoms that cosmic rays create combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, which plants absorb naturally and incorporate into plant fibers by photosynthesis.Animals and people eat plants and take in carbon-14 as well.
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.
Cosmic rays enter the earth's atmosphere in large numbers every day.
For example, every person is hit by about half a million cosmic rays every hour.
Just the facts Carbon: From stars to life 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.
In older stars that have burned most of their hydrogen, leftover helium accumulates.