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Hi, I'm slightly confused with which value corresponds with which variable for Rydberg's formula. Initially, (when it comes to emission) I thought n1(initial) stood for the higher shell and n2(final) stood for the lower shell. But I've seen some examples where it's the other way around. So are n1 and n2 always supposed to be specific, or does it matter on how you decide to use Rydberg's formula?
n1 is the big number and n2 is the small number if energy is being released, and n1 is the small number and n2 is the big number if energy is being absorbed. Released means that the energy is negative, and the absorbed means the energy is positive. HOWEVER, since you usually only use this equation in terms of finding the energy of a specific particle (which means you use the number resulting from the equation in later steps of the problem) I recommend making n1 the small number just about every time since it spits out a positive value, which makes certain calculations easier, especially if you are using the [ANS] button on your calculator.
Thank you guys for the clarification. I've also seen variants of the equation in which the R that is factored out is sometimes negative and sometimes positive. Is this because they are reversing the order of n1 and n2?
I remember that n1 is alway the lower energy shell because having a lower value in n1 ensures that the answer that comes out of the equation will be positive, whereas if the larger number was first the number would come out negative. Not a very scientific way to explain but an easy way that I've been remembering!
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