Two highly respected books: Atkins, Chemical Principles 5th ed. and Clayden Organic Chemistry 2nd ed. don't agree on the orbital arrangement of the $2p$ orbitals of $\ce{N2}$. Clayden on page 94 states that it is $\sigma_{(2p)}, \pi_{(2p)}, \pi^*_{(2p)}, \sigma^*_{(2p)}$ and Atkins on page 118 states that it is $\pi_{(2p)}, \sigma_{(2p)}, \pi^*_{(2p)}, \sigma^*_{(2p)}$.

I am a retired engineer with a consuming interest in how the brain works and am trying to give myself a good grounding in organic chemistry. This may be a trivial issue, but to a novice it hardly seems so. This kind of division within the chemistry community is very concerning.

Any ideas as to what's going on here?

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    $\begingroup$ Atkins is right. Clayden probably didn't want to go to deep into the matter. Refer to this question: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/14417/… $\endgroup$ – RBW Sep 4 '15 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the clarification, Marco. I think you're being a little too generous towards Clayden though. If you're lucky enough to own both books and are studying by yourself such inconsistencies are massively distracting. $\endgroup$ – adlibber Sep 5 '15 at 9:06