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While trying to solve an ICE box, I was using the quadratic formula and got a negative number inside of the square root term. What am I supposed to do with this? Is it supposed to be possible, or have I definitely made a mistake elsewhere?
When using the quadratic formula, you are supposed to get two terms from the equation. It is not just a negative square root, it is a plus or minus (+/-) meaning the square root value should be added and subtracted from the -B value, which gives you two different solutions. We always pick the solution that is positive and/or no greater than the initial molar concentration given.
Usually you do not get a negative square root term, but you get a negative number or a positive number. You ignore the negative number for the positive number when you are looking for the concentration .
If you got a negative number inside the square root, I would re-check the calculations inside of the square root. You shouldn't be getting a negative because that would result in an imaginary number.
You probably shouldn't be getting a negative seeing as how the Acid/Base on the product side becomes a negative term when you set the entire equation equal to 0. Remember that it's b^2-4ac so the two negatives should cancel out
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