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Question: What does it mean to say an electron has lower energy? Are those with higher energy vibrating more and moving faster because they have been bumped up to higher energy levels? Why is there a trend to molecules with lower energy? Like bound atoms have lower energy than separate atoms. How does having lower energy stabilize the atoms?
Answer: Think of it this way: the bigger the orbit (level), the higher the energy. Thinking about the energy levels makes sense conceptually because if the energy goes down, the extra energy has to go somewhere, so it comes out as electromagnetic radiation. Conversely, in order for the energy to increase, it has to come from somewhere, so it takes some incoming radiation. If the energy goes down, the extra energy appears as a photon; for the electron to get more energy, it must absorb a photon. The trend to "form molecules with lower energy" has to do with entropy or dispersal of energy, which is favorable in nature. (This idea is also known as the second law of thermodynamics). For more info, see the following link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy#The_second_law
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