# Is orbital hybridisation real?

Is the concept of orbital hybridisation an accurate description of a physical process that actually occurs in bonding atoms, or is it, like VSEPR, a heuristic tool to reason about the characteristics of classically infeasible chemical bonds? Forgive the naivete of my question: I ask this because I am not actually acquainted with the bulk of the underlying theory of chemical bonds, but only with a somewhat flimsy and superficial description that seems inadequate and overly contorted to me.

• Orbitals themselves are not quite as real as sticks and stones. So yes, better think of hybridization as a heuristic tool. – Ivan Neretin Feb 8 '17 at 6:18
• @IvanNeretin Thank you. I did think it might be something like that. – user3460322 Feb 8 '17 at 6:42
• Orbital hybridization is something people teach in school or universities because it is so straight-forward and easy to understand. I would argue that it is useful for nothing but teaching - if you like, it's a first glimpse at quantum mechanics for the young chemist. It is a great tragedy that it is not made clear by the teachers that in fact it has no applications or connection to the real world and many advanced chemists still try to argue with it. This forum is full of people being confused by it. – AMT Feb 8 '17 at 14:48

$$\text{Observation} \rightarrow \text{interpolation} / \text{modelling} \rightarrow \text{prediction} \rightarrow \text{experiment} \rightarrow \text{observation}$$