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When using the Rydberg formula to calculate the frequency and you get a negative value do you omit the negative sign for the final answer because frequency can't be negative? Or do you leave the negative sign because it indicates that the electron went from a higher energy level to a lower energy level?
Frequency should never be negative. Consequently, the negative sign should be omitted. The energy, however, still should be negative. It is this value that shows that the electron went from a higher energy level to a lower energy level.
The negative indicates that a photon is emitted. The electron is losing that energy, so the energy is negative. If it is positive, the electron gains energy and the photon is absorbed.
When using the Rydberg formula to calculate the frequency, we actually calculate the energy gap between two energy levels. Getting a positive value means the electron gains energy and it needs absorb light. Getting a negative value means the electron loses energy and emits light. Whether the light is absorbed or emitted, the energy of light must be a positive value, so frequency should always be positive.
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