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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?


marked as duplicate by bon, M.A.R., user15489, ron organic-chemistry Sep 4 '15 at 18:33

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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