In a chemical reaction, a reactant is considered to be in abundance if the quantity of that substance is high and virtually unchanged by the reaction...
of the two stable
Stable isotopes are chemical isotopes that may or may not be radioactive, but if radioactive, have half-lives too long to be measured.Only 90 nuclides from the first 40 elements are energetically stable to any kind of decay save proton decay, in theory...
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...
s of the element carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...
, accounting for 98.89% of carbon; it contains 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons.
Carbon-12 is of particular importance as it is used as the standard from which atomic mass
The atomic mass is the mass of a specific isotope, most often expressed in unified atomic mass units. The atomic mass is the total mass of protons, neutrons and electrons in a single atom....
es of all nuclides are measured: its mass number is 12 by definition.
Prior to 1959 both the IUPAP and IUPAC tended to use oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...
to define the mole
The mole is a unit of measurement used in chemistry to express amounts of a chemical substance, defined as an amount of a substance that contains as many elementary entities as there are atoms in 12 grams of pure carbon-12 , the isotope of carbon with atomic weight 12. This corresponds to a value...
, the chemists defining the mole as the number of atoms of oxygen which had mass 16 g, the physicists using a similar definition but with the oxygen-16 isotope only.